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Tofuku-ji Temple: One of the Gozan, five great Zen temples of Kyoto

Tofuku-ji Temple (東福寺) was founded in 1236. It is a crowded place in maple season, but you should definitely visit it during your stay in Kyoto. I did, and could take a lot of photos. To be exact, it was the end of maple season (late November). However, many leaves stayed beautifully red and yellow.Tofuku-ji TempleLets take a closer look at the temple and some of its premises.

Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando Hall of Tofuku-ji Temple

The place gets really hectic around that time, and an additional fee is charged for visiting Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando Hall. However, maybe it is charged all year round. I really don’t know. Anyway, the views of the bridge and from the bridge are equally spectacular.


Tofuku-ji Temple

Kaisando Hall is a subtemple of Tofuku-ji Temple, and it is also the mausoleum of Enni Bennen, a monk and temple’s first head priest. What’s interesting is that Enni is also believed to be the person who introduced udon noodles or at least flour milling techniques from China to Japan.


Gardens of Tofuku-ji Temple

Kare-sansui means “dry landscape”. It is often called “a stone garden” in English. This is the southern garden.

Tofuku-ji TempleThis type of gardens is popular in Japan since Muromachi Period. Do you remember the famous stone garden in Ryoan-ji Temple? By the way, both temples belong to the Rinzai Sect of Zen Buddhism. Tofuku-ji is in fact the headquarters of this sect.

The western garden is, on the contrary, livened up by azalea shrubs and moss.Tofuku-ji TempleThe cylindrical stones of eastern garden represent the 7 main stars of the “Big Dipper”.Tofuku-ji

The stone and moss checkered pattern at Zen garden of the Abbot’s Quarters is something that is difficult not to notice! It is the northern garden.Tofuku-ji Temple


Tofuku-ji Temple

Address: 15 Hon-machi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Telephone: 075-561-0087
Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (April to October), 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (November to early December), 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (early December to March)
Entrance fee: 400 yen (Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando Hall), 400 yen (Hojo and gardens), 300 yen for elementary and junior high school students
Access 1: 10 min. walk from Tofukuji Station on the JR Nara Line
Access 2: 7 minutes from Gion-Shijo station to Toba-Kaido station by Keihan Railway line, then 5 minutes on foot
Official website (only in Japanese): http://www.tofukuji.jp/english/index.html
Distance to airport: 90 km from Kansai Airport

Article by Olga Kaneda

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