Discover all of Japan’s cherished examples of beauty in Kyoto!

Discover all of Japan’s cherished examples of beauty in Kyoto!

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Photographs by Hiroaki Shinohara and Akira Nakata.

Traditional art, gardens, architecture…

The history of Japanese aesthetics and standard of beauty cannot be told without mentioning Kyoto. Why not take a visit this summer to the famous お寺 (otera, Buddhist temples) of Kyoto and discover the essence of Japanese beauty?

Famed gardens offer places of peace to relax and revive one’s senses

This garden called 潮音庭 (Chō-ontei) at 建仁寺 (Kennin-ji Temple) in Kyoto is cleverly designed so that regardless of where you look at it from—east, north, south, or west—it always seems like you are looking at the front of the garden.

Cho-ontei_gardenPhoto by Hiroaki Shinohara.

禅 (Zen) master Yōsai founded Kennin-ji Temple in early in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) in 1202, making it the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. Temple buildings rebuilt during the Edo period (1603-1868) fill its precincts, and with its masterpieces painted by by 俵屋宗達 (Tawaraya Sōtatsu, 1570-1640) and 海北友松 (Kaiho Yūshō, 1533-1615) as well as historic gardens, Kennin-ji is a treasure house only to be found in Kyoto.

Kenninji_Temple_KyotoPhoto by Hiroaki Shinohara.

Kyoto, the birthplace of Japanese aesthetics

Throughout all historical periods — Heian (790-1182), when Kyoto became the capital, Kamakura (1185-1333), Muromachi (1336-1573), Momoyama (1573-1603), and Edo (1603-1868) — Kyoto has constantly been the heart of Japanese beauty and culture. But why? Kyoto’s aesthetic tastes were inspired by their Asian neighbors.

Chisen_Garden_Nanzen-inA classic garden from the Kamakura period at Nanzen-in Temple called Chisen Garden. Photo by Akira Nakata.

The newest cultural developments from the Asian mainland were brought in, embraced, and further developed by the ancient temples here in Kyoto, allowing the city to remain a strong cultural capital. That is why these temples have become virtual museums, housing many of Japan’s National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties. Among the well-maintained temple grounds, you can find traditional paintings on screens and partitions, gardens that have perfected the use of rock and water, and spectacular architecture from olden times. If you focus on these three forms of beauty, Kyoto can offer you a lifetime of pleasure and fascination.

Read more about what Nanzenji Temple has to offer

Discover all of Japan’s cherished examples of beauty in Kyoto!
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