Autumn

Autumn leaves in the Tenjyu-an in Kyoto: The sub temple of the Nanzen-ji Temple

Miwa

Writer

The Nanzen-ji Temple(南禅寺) belongs to the Rinzai Sect(臨済宗) and it is the highest rank of Zen Buddhist temple in Japan. It was built in 1249 by the order of the Emperor Kameyama(亀山天皇). Later it was suffered from some fires and also was destroyed in the civil war in the 15th century, however it was rebuilt after the 17th century. Now it is designated as a National historic sites. It is refreshing to walk through under the fresh green leaves early in summer, and the temple is also famous for the autumn leaves. You can enjoy the autumn leaves at the level of your eyes and you can bask in red and orange.The Tenjyu-an(天授庵) is located in the precinct of the Nanzen-ji temple.

What to see in Nanzen-ji temple:

The Sanmon gate (三門)

Entering the entrance, the gigantic wooden gate will catch our eyes. It is the landmark of this temple, which was rebuilt in 1628. It is 22 meters high and it is overwhelmingly solemn. It is one of the three great gates in Japan.
We can go up to the observatory (500 yen). However the wooden stairs are very steep and scary, the beautiful scenery is waiting for you upstairs. We have a famous scene in Kabuki plays (歌舞伎, Japanese theater drama), which Ishikawa Goemon(石川五右衛門), the famous master thief (like Arsène Lupin in Europe), shouts “What’s a great view” at this gate.

the image courtesy of Daderot

The waterway bridge(水路閣)

Another landmark of Nanzen-ji Temple is the Waterway Bridge. This is a part of the canal called Sosui(疎水) which connected between Kyoto city and Lake Biwa, the biggest lake in Japan located in Shiga prefecture next to Kyoto.
It is the symbol of economic revival in Kyoto, because Kyoto city lost liveliness since after the Meiji restoration in 1868 when the capital was moved to Tokyo.

 

To bring the energy back by the active distribution by water, construction of the canal began in 1881 and also the water power plant was built in 1891. Shipping experienced the golden age in the early 20th century, however it disappeared in the middle of 20th century because of the remarkable development of the railway system.
Now the arch bridge of red bricks is standing quitely in the nostalgic atmosphere.

The Tenjyu-an(天授庵)

Entrance fee 400 yen

 

This temple was originally built by the order from the Emperor Kogen(光厳天皇)and later was rebuilt in 1602. It is famous for the screen paintings drawn by Hasegawa Tohaku(長谷川等伯) , a celebrated painter in the 17th century. All 32 screen paintings in main Hall are designated as national important cultural asset, but unfortunately they are not open to the public.
They have two different gardens; the east garden(東庭) in the main Hall(Hondo,本堂) and the south garden(南庭) in study or lecture hall (Shoin,書院).
The east garden is the dry garden(Karesansui-teien,枯山水庭園), we enjoy the garden from the building. The rhombus stones, which are edged with beautiful moss, are placed impressively on the white sand.
The south garden is the strolling garden with a pond (Chisen-Kaiyu-shiki-teien,池泉廻遊式庭園).
These gardens are very quiet, even though the Nanzen-ji Temple is crowded. You can enjoy peacefully the beautiful contrast of the red of autumn leaves, green of moss, and white of sand.

Other places to see:

The Nanzenji-temple is located in the Okazaki(岡崎) area, where many sightseeing places are located, such as the Eikando(永観堂), the Heian Shrine(平安神宮) and some museums.

The Eikan-do(永観堂)

It is the most famous temple for autumn leaves viewing. It is located just 300 meters away from the Nanzenji Temple. Many people visit this temple as well as the Nanzenji Temple. Entrance fee 600 yen

The Heian Shrine(平安神宮)

This shrine is famous for one of the biggest Torii gates in Japan. You can enjoy a gigantic vermillion red Torii gate on the way to the Shrine and also the ancient style of the building. Free entrance (600 yen for the garden)

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Miwa

I'm an English speaking tour guide in Kyoto. You can enjoy a variety of events in each region throughout a year. I hope to see you soon.

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