Apr. 19, 2017 UPDATE

Tofukuji Temple

- 東福寺 -
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Many attractions are offered at this temple with a wonderful scenery
Tofuku-ji Temple offers opportunities for getting full experience of Zen! Since the temple is the oldest, largest in Kyoto, and easily accessible from JR Kyoto station, you will be satisfied with their attractions such as a magnificent sceneries, traditional buildings, and gardens. This places makes for a wonderful sightseeing spot in Kyoto to see first. It is the head school of Tofuku-ji of the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism so that this is one of the greatest temples for people who are Zen prayers. It took 19 years before it was completed in 1236, and it was burnt twice in the middle of constructing. The temple is of a garan structure, which consists of 4 buildings: Sanmon (a huge gate of Buddhism), Hondo (main hall), Hojo (abbot’s chamber), and Kuri (office) at least. Hence, there are a lot of important cultural properties in the site. Why not visit on the first day of your trip and make it a first memorable event of your stay in Kyoto?
The Sammon Gate
1Highlight
The Sammon Gate
It was rebuilt in 1425 and is the oldest sanmon in Japan. Both the statue of Buddhists, Shaka-Nyorai and Jyu-Roku Rakan are enshrined on the upper floor. It is said that sanmon is a border line between Buddha and us. Let’s try understand the history of Zen!
Look At The Amazing Scenery From Tsuten-kyo Bridge
2Highlight
Look At The Amazing Scenery From Tsuten-kyo Bridge
As you pass through the entrance, the bridge will appear in front of you with an impressing view. It is the famous spot for maple leaves in autumn. You will be surrounded by red colored leaves if you are lucky.
Take a Photo Of The Northern Garden (Honbo Garden)
3Good Experiences
Take a Photo Of The Northern Garden (Honbo Garden)
Four types of unique gardens are laid out around the Hojo building. A famous garden designer, Mirei Shigemori, created them mixing with simplicity of Zen in the Kamakura period with modern art. One of them called "the northern garden" has an impressive checkered Ichimatsu. Ichimatsu is a Japanese traditional pattern and used for kimonos. Square-cut stones are in clear contrast with brilliant green moss.
Look At The Eastern Garden (Honbo Garden)
4Good Experiences
Look At The Eastern Garden (Honbo Garden)
This garden expresses the Big Dipper with 7 stones and white sand that is also often used at other Zen garden (dry landscape). The stone is originally used for another place in the site. The stones are reused in this current location because one of the teachings of the Buddha explains that there is nothing to throw away. Please check out the other 2 gardens as well and see how different they are.  
Manner & Tips
- Manner & Tips -
Please do not eat anything nor smoke inside the temple.
4.2 experience4.5 access3.5 photogenic4.5
Price
Overseas Tourist-Friendly
Erika
4.2 experience4.5 access4.0 photogenic4.0
The temple grounds are vast and to see everything will take at least an hour. The garden and the Tsuten-kyo Bridge both have an entrance fee but I still recommend you go to both of them! From the Tsuten-kyo Bridge you can see the autumn leaves in autumn, but the green maple leaves of May are also beautiful!
Kenji
4.2 experience4.5 access3.0 photogenic5.0
Tofuku-ji Temple's Tsuten-kyo Bridge is famous a place to see the autumn leaves. Personally I would like to recommend early summer with its beautiful green maple leaves and not the autumn leaves, because during the autumn leaves season the temple can be crowded. The scene you can see from the bridge when you take in the fresh spring air is unbelievable. Beside the Tsuten-kyo Bridge the vast grounds of the temple also have the breath-taking main hall and the Sanmon Gate, and the Hojo gardens at eats, west, south, and north sides of the temple, are all worth a look, so you should prepare some time for visiting this temple.
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Tofukuji Temple / 東福寺
Category Temples & Shrines
Phone +81 75-561-0087
Address 15-778, Hommachi, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 605-0981
Directions The Tofuku-ji Station of Japan Rail as well as the Keihan Electric Railway are the closest rail stations to the temple located southeast of the stations. Kyoto City Bus 6 or 16 from Shijo-Karasuma area will access to the temple.
Open Hours April to October 9am - 4pm November to December 8:30am - 4pm December to March 9am - 3:30pm
Reservations Not accepted
Closed New Year's Holidays
Notes Need to pay extra fee to enter Honbo Garden: ¥400 (adults)/¥300 (elementary, junior, and high school students)
Price range
Adult: ¥400 Elementary, junior, and high school students: ¥300
Credit cards Not accepted
Overseas Tourist-Friendly
There are English brochures at the entrance of the temple which has detailed info. Since the temple is located on the next stop from JR Kyoto Station, it is very easily to access.
Information Japanese and English
Lanuages spoken Japanese only
URL1 http://www.tofukuji.jp/english/index.html
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