Kyushu’s only dry landscape garden with its lovely moss
A Rinzai Zen temple known for the beauty of its garden, Kōmyōzen-ji is also associated with a Tenman-gu shrine. Established in 1273, the temple surrounded by nature and tranquility is very close to Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine, being only a 5-minute walk away after climbing up the path toward the Tenman-gu and then turning right. Also known as Kokedera (Moss Temple), the grounds contain the Fukkou Rock Garden whose rocks form the kanji character for “light” and a karesansui (dry landscape) garden made from rocks and sand without using any water. The inner garden, Ittekikai-no-Niwa, has 49 types of moss representing the land with white sand forming the sea. A garden whose maintenance only requires sweeping in the morning and evening and minimal pruning, its beauty interwoven with nature is captivating. You can stop in the corridor of the hondo main hall and view the garden while spending a leisurely time enveloped in tranquility. In spring, the greenery is beautiful and in the rock garden, there is a stark contrast between the trees and the moss.
An autumn when there is a lovely contrast between the deep red maples and the rock garden
In the fall, the temple takes on an even greater atmosphere as a place which is known for the autumn colors, and usually at the end of October, the leaves start changing colors with the peak time between the middle and end of November for the maple trees. During this season, the teahouse is opened and from there, the view of the Ittekikai-no-Niwa garden is wonderful. The contrast between the 300-year-old maple trees and the carpet of red maple leaves over the white sand ocean of the dry landscape garden is incredible. If you are visiting Dazaifu Tenman-gu, then you will want to make that extra trip over to the temple. There is no particular place to collect admission at a Zen temple, but there is a collection box positioned at the entrance into the main hall. Since there is no change provided there, it will be necessary to prepare exact change ahead of time.