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Aug. 12, 2020 UPDATE
Tofuku-ji Temple - 東福寺 -
Traveler Friendly
There are English brochures at the entrance of the temple which have detailed info. Since the temple is located one stop from the JR Kyoto Station, it's very accessible.
Information
Japanese and English
Languages spoken
Japanese only
2049 44 8.3 4 reviews
Aug. 12, 2020 UPDATE

Tofuku-ji Temple

- 東福寺 -
Traveler Friendly
There are English brochures at the entrance of the temple which have detailed info. Since the temple is located one stop from the JR Kyoto Station, it's very accessible.
Information
Japanese and English
Languages spoken
Japanese only
2049 44 8.3 4 reviews
Story & Recommendation
Tofuku-ji Temple - Wondrous Scenery and a Bounty of Sights and Sounds
The Tofuku-ji Temple fully immerses you in the world of Zen Buddhism.
Tofuku-ji is one of the oldest and largest temples in Kyoto and offers some of the most magnificent sights, traditional buildings, and gardens in the city.
As it's easily accessible via train from Kyoto Station, Tofuku-ji Temple is a wonderful place to kick any Kyoto sightseeing journey off at.
Head of one of the schools of the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism, this prominent Kyoto temple holds great significance to the followers of Zen Buddhism in the ancient capital. The construction of the temple took 19 years, with fires inverting progress twice, before it was eventually completed in 1236. The temple features a garan layout, which consists of four buildings: the Sanmon gate (the oldest Zen gate of its kind), Hondo (main hall), Hojo (abbot’s chamber), and Kuri (office).
Coupled with its rich history and deep connection to Kyoto, the garan style of temple layout is one of the reasons Tofuku-ji is home to such a great number of culturally important sites.
If you're looking to make your first temple in Kyoto a memorable one, then hop over to Tofuku-ji from Kyoto Station.
1Highlight
The Sanmon Gate
The Sanmon Gate
Tofuku-ji Temple's Sanmon was rebuilt in 1425 and is the oldest of its kind in Japan. Enshrined in the upper floor of the gate are two statues of the Buddhavista's Shaka-Nyorai and Jyu-Roku Rakan. It's said that Sanmon gates are borders between Buddha and us. If you would like to learn more about the history of Zen Buddhism, then this can be a great place to start.
2Highlight
Look At The Amazing Scenery From Tsuten-kyo Bridge
Tsuten-kyo Bridge and It's Amazing Scenery
Passing through the entrance to this covered bridge, you'll be greeted by a beautiful sprawling landscape. During autumn, the maple trees that make up this incredible part from the temple turn a magnificent fiery shade of red, yellow and orange, and are the reason why Tofuku-ji Temple is one of the most popular spots in Kyoto during autumn.
3Good Experiences
The Honbo Gardens - Northern Garden
The Honbo Gardens - Northern Garden
Around the Hojo abbot’s chamber, four unique gardens can be found. Famous Japanese landscaper, Mirei Shigemori, designed each of the gardens by combining the simplicity of Zen in the Kamakura period with modern art. One of the gardens called "The Northern Garden" is home to an impressive checkered pattern that is a reference to a traditional Japanese pattern used for kimono called ichimatsu. The square stones sit in stark contrast with the garden's brilliant green moss.
4Good Experiences
The Honbo Gardens - Eastern Garden
The Honbo Gardens - Eastern Garden
The eastern garden of the Honbo Gardens features seven stones against white sand—often used in Zen rock gardens—to represent the Big Dipper. The stones used in the garden were originally used in a different area of the temple, however, as Buddhism teaches that nothing is to be thrown away, they were repurposed and reused in their current location. Make sure to visit the western and southern gardens as well and see how they differ from the two we have shown here.
- Manner & Tips -
Please do not eat anything or smoke inside the temple.
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