【Kyoto】Nanzenji Temple: One of the Five Great Zen Temples2015.11.30

151130 南禅寺

Nanzenji Temple, officially named Zuiryusan Nanzen-ji, is one of the most important Zen temple in Japan, which is located in Northern Arashiyama, Kyoto. This temple became the head of the Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism with its numerous sub temples and expansive grounds.

The history of Nanzenji Temple began as an aristocratic retirement villa. Emperor Kameyama established it in 1264 and dedicated the palace as a Zen temple in 1291 after he finished his study of the Zen Master, named “Busshin Daimin Kokushi.”

Emperor Kameyama made Nanzenji grew steadily after the founding, but during the Onin Civil War (1333-1573), the all buildings were unfortunately destroyed. Some were rebuild during the sixteenth century, and the temple’s main entrance gate named “Sanmon” was built in 1628. This entrance is one of the biggest wooden gate in Japan, and it is popular as a classic “gateless” gate of Zen Buddhism, which symbolizes the most sacred part of temples.
Through the “Sanmon” gate there is the “Hojo” (Abbots’ Quarters), a National Treasure. It is notable both for its rock garden and its art.

Hojo” is the Zen garden recognized as an excellent example of the “karesansui” style, which is said to resemble tigers and cubs crossing through water. This style is seen more famously at Ryoanji, but this rock-and-gravel garden shows both a national Place and scenic beauty.
At the inside of “Hojo,” Sliding doors called “Fusuma” with beautiful paintings divide the room. All paintings were created by Eitoku Kano, who established Kano style paintings during Azuchi- Momoyama period from 1543 to 1590. The paintings show the realistic depiction of tigers on gold leaf.

There is a small tea room which you can take a rest with enjoying the beautiful sensible waterfall.


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