The oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, Kennin-ji Temple is an oasis of calm on the edge of Gion with a superb Zen garden.
Kennin-ji Temple © Olivier Lejade
Follow Hanami-koji Lane to its southern end and just before it turns east, you’ll find the entrance to Kennin-ji Temple, which stands in serene contrast to the nightly drama of lust and debauchery in nearby Gion.
Kennin-ji zen garden © EverJean
In addition to the spacious grounds, which make for pleasant contemplative strolling, there are two highlights here: 1) the pristine white karesansui (dry gravel “Zen” garden), and 2) the two dragons painted on the roof of the adjoining Hodo Hall. Just figuring out how to get from one hall to the other is a kind of genius test and those who successfully navigate the complex gate system must surely be on the road to enlightenment.
Komatsu-cho, Yamatooji-dori, Shijo sagaru, Higashiyama-ku
10am-5pm, last entry 4:30pm March-October
10am-4:30pm, last entry 4pm November-February
Closed Dec 28-31
High and junior high school students: 300
Non-smoking area: Yes
10min walk from Gion Shijo Station, Keihan line
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Official Website (English)
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