Tenju-an was founded in 1337 as a commemorative temple for the founder of Nanzen-ji, priest Daiminkokushi. The life of those early buildings was short though, with destructions in 1447 and again during the Onin war in 1467. The temple was reconstructed only during the 16th century.
The first garden is near the main hall and is very popular during the autumn, when its maple trees acquire flaming colours. Its design is of the karesansui type (dry landscape - 枯山水). The footpath made of large square stones that passes in the white sand is one of the few things remaining from the original temple of 1337. The second garden (also known as south garden or lower garden) is reached from the end of the first one, after passing under a small wooden gate (watch your head!) It is overlooked by the study, and organized around two ponds populated by koi carps. It is thought to also date back to the temple's origin, albeit with some modifications done here and there. The path circling the pond has an interesting split-style wooden bridge, for example, that was designed in the later Meiji era (late 19th century). Obviously, it was re-built several time as the freshness of its wood shows.
As a bonus, a third small stone garden ("Kyuko" garden) can be accessed from the path just south of the study. It is much more recent and faces an ugly concrete building. There's a large washbasin there, with a small green frog waiting patently for several years to jump in the water :-)
Tenju-an is a temple to visit in autumn. Definitely worth braving the crowd to see it!
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Nanyō-in 南陽院 (110m), Nanzen-in 南禅院 (130m), Konchi-in 金地院 (190m), Dainei-ken 大寧軒 (200m), Saishō-in 最勝院 (230m), Seiryu-tei 清流亭 (330m), Eikan-dō 永観堂 (450m), Murin-an 無鄰菴 (490m), Awata-jinja 粟田神社 (720m), Kōun-ji 光雲寺 (740m),...
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Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 左京区, Sakyo-ku, Nanzen-ji, 南禅寺, 瑞龍山南禅寺, temple, 寺院, 仏閣, Tenju-an, 天授庵