Nanzen-ji Temple, Kyoto

Nanzen-ji Temple, Kyoto

Once a part of Japan's Imperial Palace, Nanzen-ji was destroyed by fire and re-created as a Zen temple in the Momoyama period (1570-1600). As the head Zen temple, it enjoys very high status and sits among many gorgeous older homes that give that feeling of "old Kyoto" without as many tourists as Gion. One may catch sight of walking monks (straw hats, blue robes) more often than not, so entering with a calm mind will allow appreciating the surroundings.

The temple's two-storied main gate – one of the biggest in Japan – is indeed impressive, and the view from its top is well worth traversing the stairs. Hojo Hall has a famous sliding door painting of a tiger drinking water along with other beautiful gold leaf paintings.

The renowned gardens are also worthwhile, as are the many sub-temples and the exquisite 130-year-old European-style aqueduct just off to one side: a series of brick arches with beautiful maples in the background, it once carried water from Lake Biwa to the city of Kyoto.

Perched on the edge of the mountains, this is a great location to spend a slow-paced morning, or whole day if you want to explore the whole complex and its surroundings. General access is free, with certain areas requiring separate entrance fees, depending on interests and time to spend.

Why You Should Visit:
A photographer's dream, with bridges, plants, and water features seemingly everywhere. The architecture of the buildings is, of course, very traditional and unique, and the brick aqueduct is very interesting to see.

Tip:
While walking under the aqueduct, take the road to the far right (next to a small water stream) and climb up to a small, beautiful temple where very few tourists go.
You can get a rickshaw to tour this gorgeous area as well. Come in autumn and it's guaranteed that your photos will be stunning!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:40am-5pm (Mar-Nov); 8:40am-4:30pm (Dec-Feb); admission ends 20min before closing time
Closed: December 28-31

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Kyoto. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Nanzen-ji Temple on Map

Sight Name: Nanzen-ji Temple
Sight Location: Kyoto, Japan (See walking tours in Kyoto)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Kyoto, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

Create Your Own Walk in Kyoto

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Kyoto Shopping and Food Tour

Kyoto Shopping and Food Tour

The cultural capital of Japan, Kyoto is just as famous as a shopper’s paradise and is, without saying, the best place in the country to buy traditional and modern Japanese goods. Souvenirs, food, bargains and various “one-of-a-kind items” are all up for grabs here. If you would like to walk around Kyoto on your own two feet and enjoy shopping and authentic Japanese cooking, follow this...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Higashiyama Walking Tour

Higashiyama Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Gion District Walking Tour

Gion District Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Walk on Philosopher's Path

Walk on Philosopher's Path

Extending about 2 km along a canal carrying water from Lake Biwa to the foothills, the Philosopher's Path (so called because famed Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitaro, used to walk it as a daily meditation before WWII) is perfect for a leisurely stroll with views that change through the seasons; cherries followed by new green leaves and, then again, the pastel hues of autumn.

It's...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Arashiyama and Bamboo Grove Walking Tour

Arashiyama and Bamboo Grove Walking Tour

The Arashiyama district is slightly out of way for tourists – but that just means one can enjoy it more comfortably. While arguably the most popular attraction here is the 'bamboo path' with its magnificent, towering bamboos, you should also enjoy other scenic attractions such as the Ōi River and Mount Arashi, or the Monkey Park, all within walking distance and selected/described in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Imperial Kyoto Walking Tour

Imperial Kyoto Walking Tour

The former capital of Japan, Kyoto is the city of tradition, history and culture. Attesting to this is the central part of the city, replete with historic attractions – centuries-old imperial palaces, castles and shrines that have seen a lot in the turbulent past of Kyoto. The explore the most prominent of them and to feel the breath of antiquity, follow this self-guided walk.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles

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