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Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

Nanzen-ji is a Zen Temple built by Emperor Kameyama in the 13th Century and the head temple of the Rinzaishu-Nanzenji sect.

The Zenrinjiden villa was built in 1264 for the Emperor, and in 1291 he donated it as a Zen temple.

The temple buildings have burnt down three times during the Muromachi period (1336-1573), with the current reconstructions dating from the Momoyama period (1570-1600).

Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

Opening Times & Admission

Open 8:40 am to 4.30 pm from December to February and from 8:40 am to 5 pm from March to November.

Admission to the temple grounds is free, but to its various buildings, an entry ticket costs between 400 and 600 Yen for each building.

Admission to the Sanmon - 600 Yen, Hojo - 600 yen, Nanzenin Temple - 400 yen, Konchiin Temple - 400 yen, Tenjuan Temple - 500 yen.

Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

How to get there

From Kyoto Station:

  1. Take the Karasuma Line to Karasuma Oike Station (5 min, 3 stops), then change to the Tozai Line to Kaege Station (7 min, 4 stops). From Kaege Station walk for 10-12 minutes to Nanzenji Temple. This route costs 260 yen and takes around 30 minutes.

  2. Take the Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Yamashina Station (5 minutes, non-stop) then change to the Keihan Line (Keihan-Yamashina Station) to Kaege Station (5 min, 1 stop). From there walk for 10-12 minutes. This route costs 490 yen and takes around 30-35 minutes.

  3. Take the 5 City Bus to Nanzenji Eikando-michi (35 minutes, 16 stops), and from there walk for 10 minutes to Nanzenji. This route costs 230 yen and takes roughly 45 minutes.

Address: 86 Nanzenji Fukuchicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8435, Japan

Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto, aqueduct


nanzenji temple, kyoto.

The first building you will encounter is the Sanmon, the 22-meter high - massive entrance gate. The building, dating back to 1628 was recognized as an Important Cultural Property since 1899.

Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

You can enter the Sanmon and walk up to the first floor/balcony which offers superb views of Kyoto (especially during Sakura season).

Dharma Hall / Lecture Hall

As you walk through the Sanmon you will see a large building, parallel to it - the Lecture Hall.

The current reconstruction is from 1909, with the roof shingles and floor tiles being replaced in 1990. This beautiful building is not open to the public.


Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

As you walk past the Lecture Hall, you will see the Hojo which used to be the residence of the head priest. It is comprised of two connected buildings - the Great Hojo and the Small Hojo, both of which have numerous rooms and are open to the public (for an admission fee).

The current buildings date from 1611 and have been designated as a National Treasure of Japan since 1953.

Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

I would suggest allowing yourself at least 30 minutes to wander through all the rooms and admire everything they have to offer.

Apart from the beautifully decorated rooms, an entry ticket to the Hojo also grants access to its two dry gardens (rock gardens): the Hojo Garden, also known as the 'Tiger's Cub Crossing' Garden due to the method of stone arranging and the Small Hojo Garden (Nyoshin Garden).

nanzenji temple, kyoto


Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

As you exit the Hojo, you will see close by a structure which I found surprising, to say the least - an aqueduct. I knew of its existence before visiting Nanzenji but I can tell you it's still rather strange to see it next to a 13th-century Zen Temple.

This waterway was built between 1885 and 1890 and it runs from Lake Biwa to Kyoto City. You can walk on top of this aqueduct for a short while if you walk up the stairs close to the Hojo entrance/exit.

Nanzenji has 13 sub-temples: Nanzen-in, Kounji, Shotekiin, Jishin-in, Koto-kuan, Shinjoin, Nanyoin, Shoin-an, Bokogoan Choshoin, Konchiin, Kiun-in, Tenjuan, some of which are open to the public.

You can easily spend half a day if not more, exploring everything this beautiful temple complex has to offer, so please allow yourself enough time to enjoy everything at a comfortable pace.

Nanzenji Temple, Kyoto

Have you ever been to Nanzenji Temple? If so, I would love to hear about your visit there, in the comments below.

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I hope life is treating you well.

Take care.

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