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Kenninji Temple

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

584番地 Komatsuchō, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0811, Japan

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

JPY 300

Find it on google maps

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expert
Luat
Local tour guide
"Visit Kennin-ji Temple during the early morning hours to enjoy the serene atmosphere and beautiful temple grounds before the crowds arrive. For a unique experience, check the temple schedule and attend one of the zazen (seated meditation) sessions they occasionally offer to the public."

What is Kennin-ji Temple?

Kennin-ji Temple is a storied sanctuary nestled in the heart of Kyoto, revered as the city's oldest Zen temple. Established in 1202 by the monk Eisai, who is renowned for introducing Zen Buddhism and tea cultivation to Japan, it's a spiritual cornerstone for Zen practitioners and a serene haven for visitors from all corners of the globe. Intricately woven into the fabric of Kyoto's history, the temple grounds offer a peaceful retreat from the bustling streets, housing sublime gardens, captivating artworks, and traditional temple architecture that exemplifies Japanese aesthetics.

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History of Kennin-ji Temple

The temple's roots extend back to the Kamakura period, with its founding by the monk Eisai under the patronage of the shogun Minamoto no Yoriie. Kennin-ji's chronicles are marked by periods of both prosperity and hardship, including destruction by fires and subsequent restorations. Its resiliency is a testament to its importance in Japanese culture. Throughout the centuries, Kennin-ji has been dedicated to the practice and teachings of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. The temple has also been instrumental in fostering the arts, and it is here that one of the most iconic works of Japanese art, 'The Wind and Thunder Gods' screen paintings by Tawaraya Sotatsu, originated.

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Why is Kennin-ji Temple Important?

Kennin-ji Temple is significant for multiple reasons. Firstly, it's a pivotal site for Zen Buddhism in Japan, representing a bridge between spiritual disciplines from China and the unique cultural fabric of Japan. As the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, it encapsulates more than eight centuries of religious history, which is deeply interwoven with the cultural and historical development of the city itself. Additionally, Kennin-ji stands as a cultural beacon, preserving traditional arts, architecture, and Zen garden design. Its role in the history of Japanese tea cultivation further accentuates its significant contribution to one of Japan's most cherished cultural practices. The temple is not only a place of worship but also an emblem of the enduring spirit and aesthetic sensibilities of Japan's past.

Things to Do & See at Kennin-ji Temple

At Kennin-ji Temple, visitors can immerse themselves in the tranquil surroundings of the Zen gardens, which are designed to encourage meditation and reflection. The intricately raked gravel and carefully placed stones exemplify karesansui, the dry landscape garden style. You might let your gaze wander over the Twin Dragons painting adorning the ceiling of the Hatto (Dharma Hall)—a recent addition celebrating the temple's 800th anniversary. Marveling at the classical architecture and art is an enriching experience; the fusuma (sliding door) paintings and screens throughout the temple often feature nature motifs that convey the subtle philosophy of Zen.

Participating in a Zazen meditation session, when available, can offer a profound sense of peace and an authentic glimpse into Zen Buddhist practices. Be sure to explore the various sub-temples within the compound, each with their unique attributes and gardens. The temple also hosts seasonal events and special exhibits that show the fluidity of Zen through various art forms. Remarkably, even the most well-traveled paths within the temple grounds hold secrets and stories—like the small, almost unnoticed gravesite of a famous kabuki actor or the subtle, yet significant, architectural details that reveal much about the temple's history.

Frequently asked questions

What is Kennin-ji Temple?

Kennin-ji Temple is a historic Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. It is considered to be one of the five most important Zen temples and is recognized as the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto.

What can visitors see at Kennin-ji Temple?

Visitors at Kennin-ji Temple can explore its beautiful gardens, admire the traditional temple architecture, and view the famous dragon ceiling painting by Koizumi Junsaku among other valuable cultural artifacts.

How do I get to Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto?

Kennin-ji Temple is accessible by public transportation in Kyoto. The nearest landmarks are the Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan line or the Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu line. From there, it is a short walk to the temple.

Is there an entrance fee to visit Kennin-ji Temple?

Yes, there is a small entrance fee for visitors to enter Kennin-ji Temple. This fee helps in the maintenance and preservation of the temple's historical buildings and gardens.

What are the opening hours of Kennin-ji Temple?

Kennin-ji Temple typically opens to visitors from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, but hours may vary depending on the season or special events. It's advisable to check the temple's official website or contact them directly for the most accurate information.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

584番地 Komatsuchō, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0811, Japan

Opening Hours

10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

JPY 300

Find it on google maps