Tenryu-ji Temple Garden
- AddressSagatenryujisusukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City
Outline of garden
Address : Sagatenryujisusukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City
Telephone : +81-(0)75-881-1235
Period of garden construction : Sogen-chi garden: the early Muromachi period
Garden designer : Muso Soseki
Garden style : Pond garden
Designations and registrations : National Historic Site, National Special Place of Scenic Beauty, World Cultural Heritage
Site area : About 4,000 m2 (including the area of pond 1,000 m2 )
Public openness : Open
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Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site, is located in the Saga-Arashiyama area, which has been popular as a scenic place since the Heian period. The temple was established in 1339 by one of Zen's most important figures, Muso Soseki. Before the Meiji Restoration, the Tenryu-ji Temple owned a vast area of land ten times the size of the present one and included Mt. Arashiyama, Mt. Kameyama, Hozukyo gorge, Togetsu-kyo bridge, and others. Muso selected ten scenic places of the temple and created the Sogen-chi garden as one of those ten places.
Photo-1. Sogen-chi garden
The Sogen-chi garden was designed to be mainly viewed, while seated, from the great Hojo hall (abbot's quarters) at the east and the Shoin hall at the north. In many Japanese gardens, the most picturesque scenery can generally be seen from the buildings because the gardens are exquisitely framed by the columns, beams, and sliding doors of the buildings. The exquisite harmony with the frame in this garden can also be observed from the adjacent buildings. In addition to this point, the borrowed landscape approach is used, which makes the garden appear larger. In this way, Mt. Kameyama and Mt. Arashiyama are incorporated into the garden to appear in the whole scenery.
Photo-2. Borrowed landscape of Mt. Arashiyama behind the pond
Moreover, sitting in the great Hojo hall is a comfortable experience, with the strongly arranged stones and the background of the gentle slope of maple tree crowns bringing a fresh breeze into the visitor's imagination. The green lumpy surface called nosuji is an expression of grand nature to create a scene of grassland rustling in the wind. Of particular interest are the two different landscaping styles in this garden; one is the stone arrangement, installed at the rear of the pond, which maintains the appearance of the style of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), and the other is the elegant shoreline in front of the great Hojo hall, which has the appearance of the old style of the Heian period (794-1185).
Photo-3. Stone arrangement of the Kamakura style
Photo-4. Shore line of the old Heian style
The Shoin hall is another building worth seeing in the Sogen-chi garden. It offers a different perspective on the view of the wild stone arrangement and impressive Mt. Arashiyama behind a beautiful pond, compared to that from the great Hojo hall.
Photo-5. Sogen-chi garden viewed from the Shoin hall
Photo-6. A water stream along a garden path between the Shoin hall and Taho-den
Photo-7. Taho-den hall enshrining the statue of Emperor Go-Daigo
There is an interesting stone arrangement, supposedly created by Muso Soseki, expressing a stone carp jumping over a waterfall. According to Chinese legend, the only carp that successfully swims against the stream of a waterfall can transform into a dragon - a symbol of the success that comes from endeavor. Unlike other carp stones, which are normally placed under a waterfall to receive water, the carp stone in Tenryu-ji Temple appears over the lower waterfall as if expressing the successful carp just as it begins its transformation into a dragon.
Photo-8. Stone arrangement of the Ryumon-baku waterfall
Photo-9. Stone arrangement of a stone carp jumping over a waterfall
After visiting one of the ten scenic places in the garden, visitors often wish to visit the others. There is an impressive bamboo forest path to walk on moving toward the west from the north gate of the garden. Then, the beautiful Hozukyo gorge can be seen from an observatory deck at the upper side of Arashiyama park. When you finally reach the Togetsu-kyo bridge along a downhill path, you are free to enjoy the entire landscape that embraces and surrounds the Tenryu-ji Temple.