Enjoy the cultural properties at Nanzenji
Nanzenji is a designated National Historic Site, and there are many Cultural Properties on the temple grounds. First of all, there is Sanmon, which is a National Important Cultural Property, and one of Japan’s three greatest gates (it is the entrance to the temple and one of the locations that must be passed through during Buddhist training). The view of northwest Kyoto from the upper floor of the gate (known as Gohoro) at a height of 22 meters is very popular. Hojo (meaning “room”) is a National Treasure. Inside, it is divided into O-hojo and Ko-hojo, and 130 paintings from the Kano school adorn the wall panels within. (Currently, 80 of the paintings are in storage, but they can be viewed digitally.) Ko-hojo, in the east of O-hojo, is known as the Tiger Room because all of the wall panels are painted with pictures of tigers. Among them, Mizunomi-tora (water-drinking tiger) is the most famous picture. We also recommend the Hojo Garden, which is in front of O-hojo. This garden is called Toranoko-watashi no niwa (garden of the crossing tiger cubs). It is a dry landscape garden, where water is not used, and sand and stones represent water. The garden depicts a tiger and its cubs, as represented by stones, trying to cross a river.
There are beautiful changing colors during the fall season in the gardens of Nanzen-in, the villa of Cloistered Emperor Kameyama, who built the original Nanzenji. The garden with a path encircling a large pond is representative of the Kamakura period in which Nanzenji was built.
The aqueduct built in the Meiji period features beautiful red brick arched bridges. This aqueduct was built to transport water from Lake Biwa in nearby Shiga prefecture to the center of Kyoto. The popularity of this tourist attraction is unending, and it is often used when filming dramas.
Cherry blossoms in spring, autumn colors in the fall
There are about 200 cherry blossom trees in Nanzenji. Tetsugaku-no-michi and Heian-jingu, which are famous for their cherry blossoms, are near Nanzenji, so it is the perfect location for tourists who want to enjoy the cherry blossoms. The beautiful autumnal colors can also be enjoyed at both Nanzenji and Kiyomizudera.