A famous Zen monk was also an excellent garden designer
Soseki Muso was an extremely venerated monk who was called “The Teacher to Seven Emperors” as a national teacher of Zen through 7 generations of Emperors. He was also revered as a designer of gardens for many temples. At Zuisen-ji, he created the garden through sculpturing techniques by making a hill behind the main hall and a waterfall and pond halfway up the bedrock, placing a bridge where he had scooped out a part of the central island and creating a reservoir for the waterfall. Since the large hole, known as Tennyoto, and the pond had been buried in mud for a long time, the area was excavated and restored to basically its original state when it was first constructed according to old drawings. It is also said that the building of the shoin (study) garden began by being aware of the scenery to be seen from inside the building. Because a majority of the temples of Kamakura do not have gardens, the rock garden at Zuisen-ji, representing nature with only rocks and water, is well worth seeing.
An attractive point is the trees making use of the mountain scenery
As the place name “Momiji-ga-Yatsu” (Valley of Autumn Maple Leaves) would indicate, the area is known for its beautiful fall foliage. The highlight is from late November to early December when even in Kamakura, it’s fairly late for the fall colors. The whole of the temple grounds is a national Historic Site in which the temple path in superb combination with the depth of the forest, the optimally-sized grounds, and the trees making use of the mountain scenery are points of attraction. The plum trees share the same level of fame with the autumn leaves. Going past the entrance gate are lines of plum trees. With the peak time being from mid-February, there is the enjoyment of viewing Japanese allspice, the Natural Monument of winter jasmine, weeping plum, red-blossomed plum, white plum and various other types of plum blossoms.