Originally established as a hermitage by priest Saicho (767-822), Sanzen-in was first named Kaiji Monzeki or Nishimoto Monzeki before gaining its final name in 1871. Sanzen-in is one of the five "Monzeki" temples and has had several imperial family members serving priesthood here. It's the largest temple in the Ohara valley, which means it's also the busiest, especially during the autumn season.
The most famous sight of this temple is its zen garden surrounding the study hall. Another popular place is the separated Ojo-Gokuraku hall built 986 to shelter an important statue of the Amitabha trinity (National Treasure). Most will only really see its exterior though, for the inside is very dark and black after so many years. The classic photo of the hall is from the main temple with two tall trees in front, and can be seen in many books, pamphlets and posters about Ohara or Kyoto. The hall is surrounded by a nice moss garden on which hide a few small sculptures of laughing 'kids' called "warai jizo" (笑い地蔵).
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Jikkō-in 実光院 (120m), Shōrin-in 勝林院 (170m), Hōsen-in 宝泉院 (200m), Keitoku-in 桂德院 (1.1km)
External links: Website, ウィキペディア, Wikipedia, Wikipédia, Kyoto Navi, Trip Advisor, Kyoto Design, 京都風光, Inside Kyoto, Marutake, そうだ京都, Satellite view, Map
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, Ohara, 大原, 三千院, temple, 寺院, 仏閣, Sanzen-in