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Aug. 07, 2020 UPDATE
Nanzen-ji Temple - 南禅寺 -
Traveler Friendly
Taiwanese, Korean, and Chinese brochures are available at the entrance of the main building. You may enjoy only walking around the gate without the entrance fee because the square that is in front of the building is so large.
Information
Japanese, English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean
Languages spoken
Japanese only
4262 113 8.8 2 reviews
Aug. 07, 2020 UPDATE

Nanzen-ji Temple

- 南禅寺 -
Traveler Friendly
Taiwanese, Korean, and Chinese brochures are available at the entrance of the main building. You may enjoy only walking around the gate without the entrance fee because the square that is in front of the building is so large.
Information
Japanese, English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean
Languages spoken
Japanese only
4262 113 8.8 2 reviews
Story & Recommendation
Enjoy the temple with the zenest atmosphere in Japan, Nanzen-ji Temple
Located near the Keage Subway Station and really easy to get to, the Nanzen-ji Temple is the head temple of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism (Zen has three sects in Japan)
The temple was founded in 1291 and with its large grounds is a great place for leisurely zen-strolls. Not only is the temple home to historical buildings, but a swath of cherry blossoms too, which fill the temple with pale pink petals in spring and beautiful wilting leaves in autumn.
When the temple’s cherry blossoms go into full bloom, it’s such a picturesque sight that we’re sure everyone on your social media feeds will be falling over themselves to chuck you a like.

While the cherry blossoms are all well and good, the first thing you’ll be sure to notice when approaching the temple is the huge Sanmon gate. The gate stands 22 meters tall and even has an elevated viewing area. The view from the top of the gate is simply incredible, so if you’re able to, we suggest getting to the temple early and going up before the crowds start to amass.
At Nanzen-ji Temple, relax among nature, listen to birds singing, feel at peace with the world and – dare I say it – reach a state of zen.
1Highlight
Sanmon Gate
Sanmon Gate
Standing 22 meters tall, the Sanmon Gate is one of the symbols of this temple. Although it costs a little extra yen to climb to the second floor, the many Buddha statues, pictures of colorful phoenixes and panoramic view is very much worth it. The stairs are really steep so please be careful when going up.
2Highlight
Red Brick Arches
Red Brick Arches
Another unique characteristic of the Nanzen-ji Temple are these red brick arches. Can you believe that the tap water you’ll drink while staying in Kyoto still passes through this aqueduct? In my opinion, this is a must-snap photo spot.
3Good Experiences
Walk Past the Suiro-kaku Aqueduct
Walk Past the Suiro-kaku Aqueduct
The Suiro-kaku is a 93 meter long aqueduct that carries water from the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa. You climb to the top of the aqueduct and see the water running, but this isn’t recommended for those afraid of heights. Walking on top the aqueduct is fun but definitely not for those faint of heart.
4Good Experiences
Walk the Keage Incline
Walk the Keage Incline
The Keage Incline is only a short walk from the Suiro-kaku aqueduct, so why not give it a visit too? Whenever we visit Nanzen-ji Temple and the Keage Incline, we take our headphones off and listen to the soothing murmurs of the river and singing of the birds.
- Manner & Tips -
Respect the zen, don’t talk too loudly.
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