Tenryū-ji (天龍寺)

Tenryū-ji (天龍寺)

Tenryu-ji is a large temple in the western part of Kyoto, and also one of the oldest and most respected. It originally emperor Go-Daigo's villa, which was itself built on the location of another temple (Danrin-ji) dating back to the 9th century. At the death of the emperor in 1339, the villa was converted to a temple by shogun Ashikaga Takauji. Tenryu-ji had a tormented history and burned no less than 8 times, the latest in 1864. Thus most of today's buildings date back from the late 19th century. However, the garden (called "Sogenchi garden" - 曹源池) remained as designed by Muso Soseki in the 14th century. It was the first Special Scenic Historic Area designated by the government and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995.

Tenryu-ji means "heavenly dragon temple" and one feature of this location is indeed the large painting of a dragon on the ceiling of the hatto hall (法堂). This feature is common in Buddhist temple, the dragon representing wisdom. The painting is actually recent (1997); it was created when the older one from the 19th century was declared foobar'ed (in other words: beyond repair).

The main temple entrance is located almost right in front of Arashiyama Station (嵐山駅). Between the gate to the main buildings is a wide path bordered on the left by a grove of maple and cherry trees (can be very crowded) and on the right by a series of sub-temples. The ticket booth is near the main buildings. Two tickets can be bought: one that give you only access to the "ground level" (gardens) and the other which also lets you get in the temple and admire the garden with a slightly elevated perspective. The garden remains the main tourist-magnet, and for a good reason ;) Behind the large pond are a few narrow paths hidden by the trees. Those form a loop around the pond and can be walked, but most will head to the "back garden" of the temple that lies around its Tahoden hall (多宝殿) and is well known for its flowers. Further behind that small rest area with a nice view on a bamboo forest. At the extremity of the grounds is the back-entrance of the temple which is on the Bamboo Forest Alley. A few other temples and sights can be accessed by turning left into the forest.

Few of the sub-temples can be visited. One is Hogon-in which is often open to the public, another one is Kogen-ji which is rarely open. The best, however, remains to visit the main temple and head to the bamboo alley to reach the other interesting sights of Arashiyama.

Recommended for: Access:

In Tenryū-ji:

Hōgon-in (宝厳院)
Hōgon-in (宝厳院)
 
Rinsen-ji (臨川寺)
Rinsen-ji (臨川寺)
 
Kōgen-ji (弘源寺)
Kōgen-ji (弘源寺)
 

Nearby: Bamboo alley 嵯峨竹林 (240m), Nonomiya-jinja 野宮神社 (250m), Shōkaku-ji 正覚寺 (350m), Okochi Sansō villa 大河内山荘 (450m), Furoan フロアン (540m), Rakushisha 落柿舎 (630m), Senkō-ji 千光寺 (630m), Jōjakkō-ji 常寂光寺‎ (660m), Hōrin-ji 法輪寺 (700m), Arashiyama Monkey Park 嵐山モンキーパーク (730m),...

Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kansai, 関西, Kinki, 近畿, Kyoto, 京都, 嵐山, arashiyama, temple, お寺, 寺院, 卍, 仏閣, 天龍寺, tenryuji, tenryu-ji, UNESCO world heritage

Visited on 9 occasions, id: 103, 52 photos (43 extra photos can be found in the archive).

Photos of Tenryū-ji:

Lotus flower, Tenryu-ji temple
Zen garden pond in autumn, Tenryu-ji temple
Bamboo forest, Tenryu-ji temple