Because of its cultural importance, it’s now a UNESCO World heritage site.
Tenryuji’s history goes back to the 14th century where it was built by then-Shogun Ashikaga Takauji. He dedicated the temple to the former emperor Go-Daigo, with whom he did not have a good relationship.
He believed he could appease the deceased emperor’s spirits this way.
As with lots of temples in Japan, Tenryuji was also destroyed or burnt down multiple times in war. Fortunately, it has now been intact since the late Meiji Period (1868-1912), escaping destruction in World War II.
Temple Grounds & Gardens
Tenryuji’s gardens however have amazingly been kept in their former design, not suffering any substantial damage. It consists of a large pond with rocks aligned at the sides and beautiful trees and other plants.
Beyond the pond you can get a nice view of the famous Arashiyama mountain range.
Tenryuji’s temple grounds feature multiple buildings which you can enter for an additional fee.
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Opening Hours & Admission Fee
- Opened every day from 8:30 to 17:30 (17:00 from late October through late March)
- There are no closing days throughout the year
- Entrance Fee for the temple grounds: 500 Yen (3,85€/$4.55); you can pay an additional 300 Yen (2,31€/$2.73) to enter the temple buildings
How to get to Tenryuji
From Kyoto Station (京都駅)
Take the train to JR Saga Arashiyama Station for about 10-15 minutes and 240 Yen (1,85€/$2.18). From there, you can walk to Tenryuji temple in about 5-10 minutes. As this is a Japan Railway (JR) train, the ride is covered by the Japan Rail Pass (or other regional passes).
Tenryuji is easily a must-see sight when visiting Arashiyama.
As the number-one Zen temple in Kyoto, it hosts immense importance for anyone interested in Buddhism or Zen.
Being as important as it is, Tenryuji enjoys a healthy visitor count which is why I recommend coming here as early as possible, similarly to other temples and shrines of Kyoto.
At 8:30, this temple opens a little earlier than most so you can easily plan it as a first visit of the day.
You can check out my article about visiting a Japanese temple to learn how to pray and behave respectively at such a temple.
Taking a stroll through the temple’s beautiful gardens whilst enjoying the view on Arashiyama’s mountains is in my opinion one of the best ways to start a day.
So, in a nutshell: Recommended for everyone who loves nature, spiritualism and tradition!
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See you there!