ART & TRIP! この夏は「名画」と「絶景」の旅へ!




Enjoy a tour of Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto in 3 hours! Recommended route with beautiful maple trees

Nanzenji Temple(南禅寺) in Kyoto is full of attractions, such as the Sanmon Gate with its spectacular view, the Hojo(方丈), which is a national treasure, the Kano School fusumae (sliding door paintings), and the Karesansui(枯山水). The main attraction of Nanzenji is that you can tour the temple within a short time, since you are mainly moving just within the temple grounds. In this issue, we introduce a recommended route that allows you to enjoy Nanzenji in three hours. Why not take a round trip from Konchiin Temple(金地院), the subsidiary temples of Nanzenji, to the Suirokaku(水路閣) Pavilion, a popular photo spot?

Recommended 3-hour tour of Nanzenji Temple


Japanese beauty at Konchiin

The first stop is Konchiin, the subsidiary temples of Nanzenji Temple. This temple is associated with the famous monk Konchiin Suden(金地院崇伝=Buddhist prist who is also an important politician), who was called “Kokui no saisyo” under Tokugawa Ieyasu. First, you can attend the special viewing that begins at 9:30 in the morning. You will see the gorgeous and powerful gold paintings of the Kano school in the main hall.

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

Daihojo. The paintings on the wall are of the Kano school. In the back is “Yukimatsu zu” by Kano Tanyu.

Meanwhile, in the small drawing room in the back of the building, you will come face to face with a sliding door painting of monkeys by Hasegawa Tohaku, entitled “Enko Sokugetsu zu”. You can get so close that you can almost touch them, and enjoy the fluffy fur and endearing expression painted with a bamboo brush.

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

Hasegawa Tohaku “Enko Sokugetsu zu(猿猴捉月図)”

Address: 86-12 Fukuchi-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
TEL 075-771-3511
Business hours: 8:30-17:00 (16:30 from December to February)
Closed: No holidays
Admission: 400 yen


“Nanzenji Sanmon Gate”, a spectacular sight from all angles

After getting acquainted with the beauty of Japan at Konchiin Temple, head down the path to Nanzen-ji Temple. Beyond the rows of green maple trees is the boldly standing Sanmon Gate. Here, after you pass through the gate, we recommend you take one more glance back at the view.

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

The temple is also famous for the scene in the Kabuki play “Romon Gosannokiri(楼門五三桐),” in which Ishikawa Goemon exclaims ‘Zekkeikana, Zekkeikana! (What an amazing view!)’ from the roof.

The view of green maple leaves spliced by the grand columns looks like a picture in a frame. One of the pleasures of the Sanmon Gate is the opportunity to climb to the top floor. The colorful ceiling paintings are said to depict the Gokuraku jodo (Buddhist heaven) by Kano Tanyu and others.

◆Sanmon Gate of Nanzenji Temple
Address: Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
500 yen for the entrance fee (on the upper floor)
*Period and hours of visit are the same as those of Nanzenji Temple.


The pond garden at ‘Tenju-an(天授庵)’ is a green maple paradise

The next stop is ‘Tenju an’, the pagoda that opened Nanzen-ji Temple. Here, visitors can enjoy two gardens: the south garden, which is a 1,000-tsubo (3300㎡) pond garden with a circular path around a pond, and the east garden, which is a karesansui garden.

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

East Pond in the south garden

The east garden is impressive with its white sand, green moss, and geometric stone pavement. The south garden, on the other hand, is a pleasant place to walk through dense maple and bamboo forests. The best place for “Aomomiji gari(maple leaf picking)” is on the wooden bridge over the pond.

Address: Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-771-0744
Business hours: 9:00-17:00 (16:30 from November to February)
Closed: No holidays
Admission: 400 yen


Visitors are soothed by the works of the Kano school at the “Nanzenji Hojo” temple

After returning to the approach from Tenjuan and admiring the beautiful Hatto(法堂) Hall with its Zen Buddhism-style tiled roof, the highlight of the tour is the Hojo Hall of Nanzenji Temple, a national treasure. The highlight of the tour is the Hojo (chief priest) hall of Nanzenji Temple, a national treasure. The view from the large banister overlooks a karesansui garden, said to have been created by Kobori Enshu(小堀遠州). The garden is called “Toranoko watashi no niwa(虎の子渡しの庭)” because the giant stones lying on their sides resemble a tiger crossing a river of white sand.

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

Enshu’s “Toranoko watashi no niwa”

Now, after admiring the tigers in the elegant garden, you will meet the tigers running around inside the hojo. Nanzenji’s Dai-hojo(大方丈) is a relocated version of the palace of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, donated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The following Ko-Hojo is a relocated version of the small drawing room at Fushimi Castle. The paintings on the walls are the works of the Kano school. Among them, Kano Tanyu’s masterpiece, “Guntora zu,” which covers 40 sliding doors, is especially impressive. The tigers depicted in “Mizunomi no tora(水呑みの虎)” are so dynamic that they seem like they might leap out of the water at any moment.

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

Ko Hojo, San-no-Ma. The painting on the wall is “Guntora zu” by Kano Tanyu

◆Nanzenji Hojo
Address: Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Tel: 075-771-0365
Business Hours: 8:40-16:40 (closed Dec-Feb – 16:10)
Closed 4 days at the end of the year
Admission: 500 yen


Finish the tour at Nanzen-in Temple and Suirokaku, a retro modern building

After exiting the Hojo Hall of Nanzenji Temple, the red brick Suirokaku(水路閣) appears on the left. It was built in 1890 to transport water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto, and is one of the modern architectural structures of Kyoto. First, pass through the arch of the Suirokaku and climb the stone steps to visit Nanzen-in, a separate temple.

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

This is the site of a detached palace where Emperor Kameyama, who later founded Nanzen-ji Temple, lived. The elegant garden, which conveys the atmosphere of those days, is a pond garden with a circular path around a pond, said to have been created by the emperor himself in the late Kamakura period (1185-1333). Visitors can take a leisurely stroll around the dragon-shaped Upper Pond and the Lower Pond, which has small islands arranged in the shape of the chinese character for ‘kokoro’. Walking deeper into the garden, the fresh greenery reflected on the surface of the pond is so beautiful you may feel a glimpse of Emperor’s joy, who was very fond of this scenic spot.

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

To wrap up the tour, take a commemorative photo at the Suirokaku, where you will feel the romance of history. After taking a deep breath in the fresh green, it is time to end the tour. Let’s go eat something delicious while listening to the sound of Sosui(疎水).

◆Nanzen-in Temple
Address: Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City
Admission: 300 yen
Hours and period of visit are the same as those of Nanzenji Temple.

Address: Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto


A little bit out of the way…recommended spots after strolling around Nanzenji Temple

If you want to have lunch or tea after your stroll, visit the famous restaurant located right by the temple. For those who want to walk a little further to enjoy the fresh greenery, we recommend Murinan, a famous scenic spot. If you want to do some shopping, how about going to a pottery store where you can find cute small plates?

Taianen Hanare no Café

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

This is a hideaway cafe just a few minutes from the three gates of Nanzenji Temple. It is run on the second floor of an elegant building by the famous Kyoto kappo restaurant “Taian-en(大安苑)”. The beautiful garden that can be seen from the window seats was created by Ogawa Jihei XI, aka Ueji, the 11th generation of the restaurant’s owner. In early summer, fresh greenery and azaleas are at their best.

◆Taianen Hanare no Café
Address: Daianen, 81 Kusagawa-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
TEL: 075-752-4333
Business hours: 11:30-17:00
Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays


南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

Okakita, established in 1940, offers Kyoto udon noodles “eaten with broth”. Soft and firm thin noodles, chopped up fried bean-curd and kujo green onions. These are all prepared to the same thickness, so that they complement each other well when served together.

Address: 34 Okazaki Minami-Gosho-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City
TEL: 075-771-4831
Business hours: 11:00 – 20:00 (L.O.)
Closed: Tuesday, 1st and 3rd Wednesday, May 2nd and 6th


南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

Murinan was built in 1896 as a villa for Yamagata Aritomo, an elder of the Meiji and Taisho eras. The garden was designed by Ogawa Jihei VII. It is a pond garden with three-tiered waterfall, pond, and lawn.

Address: 31 Kusagawa-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
TEL: 075-771-3909
Business hours: 8:30-18:00 (30 minutes before entrance. Opening hours vary depending on the time of year.)
Closed at the end of the year

Utsuwaya Akane

南禅寺を3時間で歩く! 金地院から水路閣までのおすすめルート

This is a famous pottery store standing at the Nanzenji-mae intersection. The store’s female owner is a connoisseur of artisanal dish plates, and she selects simple, lovely dish plates that you will never get tired of using. The reasonable price is also a nice point. On the right is “Sometsuke sumikiri siho mamezara” by popular Kyoto artist Murata Shin, and on the left is “Hakuji mokko mamezara” by Kaga artists Anzai Arata and Atsuko.

◆Utsuwaya Akaon
Address: 83-1 Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
TEL: 075-752-4560
Business hours: 10:30-17:30
Closed: Monday

This page is translated from 京都・南禅寺巡りを3時間で満喫!? もみじも美しいおすすめルート




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ART & TRIP! この夏は「名画」と「絶景」の旅へ!