Tofuku-ji, Kyoto’s leading group of temple buildings
There are 5 famous temples in Kyoto which have been ranked as the Kyoto Gozan or the Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto, of which one is Tofuku-ji Temple. As well, the buildings of the temple show characteristics that belie its status as a Rinzai sect temple. The 22-meter high sanmon gate has been designated as a National Treasure and is known as the oldest sanmon gate in Japan. Also, Tokufu-ji has the oldest zen meditation hall in the nation. Furthermore, Tsutenkyo Bridge which makes use of a steep valley and links the chief priest’s quarters (hojo) and Kaisan-do Hall is an especially well-known structure within the temple. Tofuku-ji is called “garan zura”. A garan refers to the temple and its important buildings, and with Tofuku-ji, buildings such as the main hall and the chief priest’s quarters make up the core of the garan with Ryogin-an and Reiun-in Temples comprising some of the 25 sub-temples on the grounds. It’s good to take a look around at the National Treasure sanmon gate and Important Cultural Properties such as the zen meditation hall, the 13-storey pagoda and the reception hall. In addition, there is the unique dry landscape rock garden made from red sand as well as similar gardens for Reiun-in and Taiko-an Temples. There are plenty of sights to see among the 25 sub-temples and other facilities that fully complete Tofuku-ji’s reputation as a famous tourist spot.
Enjoy nature at Tofuku-ji
Tofuku-ji is famous as a garan zura, but its gardens also claim great fame. The northern garden at the hojo is known for its unique pattern and beautiful harmony of moss and paving stones. This was the work of Mirei Shigemori who earned great popularity during the Showa Era. Also, Tofuku-ji is well known as a site for the autumn colors. Kyoto has many famous places for fall foliage, but it’s no exaggeration to say that this temple is the most beautiful and highly popular of them all. Called tsutenkoyo (fall colors going up to the sky), the leaves have the special characteristic of turning into a deep yellow. In particular, the leaves seen from Tsutenkyo Bridge overlooking the steep valley are incredibly beautiful, and in autumn, many tourists gather to take a look. Within the temple grounds, there are about 2000 maple trees whose leaves are famously split into three lobes. Meanwhile at the hojo, there is a place that resembles a protruding balcony where you can see the fall colors and Tsutenkyo Bridge which makes it the perfect sightseeing spot during the fall season.