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Tourists gather at the Nanzenji Zen Buddhist temple nestled at the foot of the Higashiyama Mountains. It is known throughout Japan for its spiritual importance as the head of a branch of Rinzai Zen. The shrine, which is decorated by multicolored trees, is packed full of antique paintings and ornate gardens.
Gaze up at the 72-foot-high (22-meter) Sanmon Gate. From the balcony at the top of the gate, take vibrant photos of the green, orange and red foliage with a mountainous landscape beyond them. Marvel at the 124 sliding-door paintings from the Kano school of art. Many of the works portray tigers. Visit in the fall to make the most of the changing colors of the leaves.
Find yourself in the elegant Hojo Garden. It consists of rocks, small pebbles and sand. The Tsuiji Wall surrounding the grounds is made from mud. The particular arrangement of the stones is known as the “mother tiger and her cubs crossing a river.” Admire a charming waterfall from the tearoom. Check out the Lake Biwa aqueduct from the late 19th century within the temple’s grounds. Visit one of the complex’s 12 sub-temples, which include Nanzen-in, Konchi-in and Tenjuan.
Originally a retirement home for an emperor in the 13th century, the building was later converted into a Zen temple. There is a fee to enter the gardens and certain buildings, although the temple precincts are free. The complex is closed annually for the last few days of December.
Nanzenji Temple is located in the northeastern sector of the city. The nearest subway station is Keage, which is on the Tozai Line. It is only a few minutes away on foot. The Nanzenji-Eikando-michi bus stop is close. These transportation links can be accessed easily from Kyoto Station. Nearby sites include the Philosopher’s Walk, Konchi-in Temple and Okazaki Park.
Get the most out of your time spent at Nanzenji Temple. Here's a list of the best activities:
Taken you years to visit this popular attraction? Then you mustn't go home without trying out a Small-Group Kyoto Cycling Tour.
If you're looking for more options, examine our Kyoto things to do page.
Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Nishihonganji Temple, Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Aquarium. Higashi Honganji Temple and Toji Temple are also within 1 mile (2 km). Kyoto Toji Station is 12 minutes by foot and Kujo Station is 16 minutes.
Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is steps away from Kiyamachi Street and Pontocho. Kawaramachi and Nishiki Market are also within 10 minutes. Sanjo Keihan Station and Kyoto Sanjo Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Situated in Kyoto, this ryokan is within a 15-minute walk of Heian Shrine and Nanzenji Temple. Kyoto University and Philosopher's Walk are also within 1 mile (2 km). Higashiyama Station is 14 minutes by foot and Kyoto Jingu-marutamachi Station is 20 minutes.
Located in Okazaki, this romantic hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Shoren-in Temple, Heian Shrine and Nanzenji Temple. Gion Corner and Kyoto University are also within 1 mile (2 km). Keage Station is only a 2-minute walk and Higashiyama Station is 9 minutes.
Located in Sanjo, this luxury hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Nishiki Market and Chion-in Temple. Heian Shrine and Kyoto Imperial Palace are also within 2 mi (3 km). Sanjo Keihan Station and Kyoto Sanjo Station are within a 2-minute walk.
Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is steps away from Kiyamachi Street and Pontocho. Nishiki Market and Kawaramachi are also within 15 minutes. Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station and Shiyakusho-mae Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Okazaki, this luxury ryokan is steps away from Murin-an and Konchi-in Temple. Kyoto Municipal Zoo and Nanzenji Temple are also within 10 minutes. Keage Station is 5 minutes by foot and Higashiyama Station is 11 minutes.
Located in Okazaki, this ryokan is 0.7 mi (1.1 km) from Heian Shrine, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Kiyomizu Temple and Kyoto Imperial Palace. Sanjusangendo Temple and Nijō Castle are also within 3 mi (5 km). Keage Station is 7 minutes by foot and Higashiyama Station is 12 minutes.