Tenryuji - Kyoto

Located in 68 Susukinobaba-cho, Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City in Kyoto Prefecture, Tenryuji (天龍寺is one of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Kyoto City.

Tenryuji (天龍寺)

Tenryuji History

Tenryuji was built under the instructions of shogun Ashikaga Takauji in 1339 in memory of Emperor Go-Daigo who had passed away that year. The temple's name tenryu literally translates to the "dragon of the sky". The name came from a dream of Ashikaga Takauji's younger brother Tadayoshi. The temple was completed at around 1345 and the eminent Rinzai Zen master Muso Soseki was appointed as its founding abbot after which the temple prospered as the most important Rinzai temple in Kyoto. With that, the temple's land grew to as big as 33 hectares. 

Muso Soseki

Now going back to Muso Soseki... He was known as the most famous monk of his time. Aside from being a Rinzai Zen Buddhist, he was also a teacher, calligraphist, poet, and garden designer. Although he has designed a lot of gardens in his lifetime, most of them were destroyed during the Onin War. However, some survived until today such as the gardens of Saihoji (also called Koke-dera) in Kyoto and Eihoji in Gifu, and of course the garden of Tenryuji. 

Let's go and visit Tenryuji!

Find time to read this to discover the history of the place

Tenryuji's Kuri building

Tenryuji's Hojo

Tenryuji's Hatto

Since its founding, Tenryuji has been ravaged by Mother Nature and by man a lot of times, as a matter of fact, its buildings burnt down due to several major fires. Despite this, it was rebuilt several times thru the financial support of the people including the famous shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Sadly, in 1877, as the temple was in the process of rebuilding after being consumed by the great fire of 1864, the Meiji government confiscated most of its lands reducing the temple complex to only less than a tenth of its original land area. Regardless, rebuilding efforts still continued until the late nineteenth century. Some buildings were moved to different locations within the temple vicinity while some buildings were reconstructed and new structures were built like the Shounkaku and Kan'u-tei (tea houses). 

Some stone decorations near the entrance to the garden

Unlike the temple buildings, the garden of Tenryuji AKA Sogenchi Teien mostly survived for centuries and is still largely in its original form. Like the other gardens designed by Muso Soseki, Tenryuji's garden features a central pond surrounded by rocks and pine trees. Today, it is probably safe to say that Tenryuji's garden is the main highlight of one's visit to Tenryuji.

Hachiman Shrine

Seems like they're enjoying the stroll 

Gotta love the Kuri building

My family and I got to visit Tenryuji on the afternoon of our second day in Kyoto during our 2018 Japan trip. It was such a good decision that we visited in the afternoon as there were only a handful of visitors. However, we were pressed for time as the temple closes at 5:30PM and we had other places to visit before sunset. Regardless, we still managed to explore some parts of this historic temple. Sadly, I was not able to get a goshuin for my collection. It just goes to show that I should revisit the temple again someday. 

Tenryuji Admission Fee

Ella visits Tenryuji

Overall, Tenryuji is a must-visit if you love history and nature. It is ranked as one of the five greatest Zen Temples in Kyoto aside from being registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto" in 1994. f you're planning to visit, keep in mind that the temple opens at 8:30 AM.

Tenryuji Entrance Fee

You need to pay a 500 yen admission fee to view the garden and an additional 300 yen to enter the temple buildings (Pre-school children are free).

Tenryuji Opening Hours:

Tenryuji is open from 8:30AM to 5:30PM every day.

Why visit Tenryuji?

If you plan to explore the Arashiyama District of Kyoto City, Tenryuji is one of those destinations that you should include in your itinerary. The Sogenchi Pond and garden is a must-see. Aside from that, Tenryuji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so, that alone makes it a must-visit destination in Kyoto City.

Getting to Tenryuji:

Ride the Keifuku Randen Tram and board down at the  Arashiyama Station. From there Tenryuji is about 5 minutes walk away. 
Randen Tram fare: 230 yen

You can also take the Kyoto City Bus #61, 72, or 83 and board down at Arashiyama Tenryu-ji Mae bus stop. 
Bus Fare: 230 yen

Overall rating


  1. I just came back from there few months ago, the tranquility and peace experienced in Kyoto temples is unforgettable.

    1. Wow! I have seen your blog to. I love your write up about Kyoto.

  2. That's super interesting! I've always been fascinated with the temples of Japan. In fact, I want to visit them when I go to Japan someday!

  3. Beautiful, vibrant pictures and informative blog. I learnt a lot, thank you:)
    Risen from ashes again and again, what could be better message for humans!?

    1. Thank you so much for visiting my blog.
      That's true Peter. Gotta dig deep about what really does it say to us humans. =)

  4. Beautiful photos! Well done. :-)

  5. I visited here a couple of years back. Kyoto is such a beautiful part of Japan!

    1. I agree with that. I fell in love with Kyoto the first time I stepped there.

  6. Thanks for sharing such beautiful culture, amazing!

  7. This post is stunning! Thank you so much for sharing such beautiful photos. Rach

  8. I enjoyed this temple immensely when we also visited Kyoto. Was very pregnant-lady friendly 😂

  9. Thank you very much for such useful information! I feel that I shall be benefitted and my friends will be benefitted! will go Japan next year!

    1. That's really great to hear. I hope you'd get to visit Tenryuji too.

  10. Lovely pictures and informations. Your writing is beautiful. I look forward to read more from you.

  11. Very nice. You are my window to Japan. I learned from your travel.......

  12. Thanks for this post! I think this adds my dream itenary to Japan to over a month now! Haha

  13. The temple is gorgeous, I love all of the gardens. It is kid friendly?

    1. Yes it is. =) Your kid would surely love running around the temple vicinity.

  14. Not a fan of temples in cities but I'd keep this in mind when I visit Kyoto.

  15. Kyoto Buddhists temple seems to be favorite place for most traveler. I read quite a few blogs regarding their visits on this place. Definitely a must-visit place!

    1. Yes that's true Nina. It's actually the rich history that brought me here.

  16. Its definitely a place I would love to travel too. For a man from the UK I love these temples amazing.

  17. So beautiful love it! I should def go here!

  18. The photos looks amazing as if no one was there but just you guys! Kyoto is really on top of my places to go, I hope it will be next year.

    1. Here's a tip... visit famous places in the afternoon. Just when it's about to close for the day. =)

  19. Thats cool! I am planning to go JP next year

    1. Wow! I envy you. I wish I could go back there again soon.

  20. Beautiful temple! I hope I could visit Tenryuji when I go to Japan next year.


Post a Comment


Total Pageviews

Article Archives

Show more
Subscribe and get updated with the latest travel articles of The Backpack Adventures


Klook search


Popular posts from this blog

A Guide to Collecting Eki Stamps

Kamay ni Hesus Shrine - Quezon

Blue Coral Beach Resort - Batangas

Tanza Oasis Hotel and Resort - Cavite

Tagaytay Picnic Grove - Cavite

Jose Rizal Shrine in Calamba - Laguna

Hidden Garden of Vigan - Ilocos Sur

Munting Buhangin Beach Camp - Batangas

Juan and Antonio Luna Museum - Ilocos Norte

Patungan Beach - Cavite