Tenryu-ji (Dragon of the Sky Temple) was established in 1339 by Ashikaga Takauji on the site once held as a residence for Emperor Gosaga and Kameyama. Prior to that, Japan’s first Zen temple, Danrin-ji, was founded by Empress Tachibana no Kachiko. The beautiful Sogenchi stroll garden was created in 1345 by Muso Soseki, the temple founder, and is designated a Special Historic Site and a Special Historic Scenic Area. Mount Arashiyama can be seen in the background. It is formally known as Shiseizen-ji, the head temple of the Tenryū branch of Rinzai Zen Sect.
Byodo-in was built by Fujiwara no Yorimichi as a Buddhist Pure Land garden at his family’s Villa in Uji, east of Kyoto. The only building of the palace that survives today is the Phoenix Hall 鳳凰堂. Completed in 1053, it was later converted a Buddhist temple. The Phoenix Hall sits on an island facing east where the statue of Amida Nyorai, carved by Jocho, greets the rising sun as he looks across the Pure Land Lake. At nearly a thousand years old, Phoenix Hall is one of the few surviving examples of Heian period architecture.
This sub-temple of Daitoku-ji was built in 1509 by Zen Daisho Kogaku Sotan and contains one of the most well-known gardens in the “karesansui” (dry landscape) style. Its symbolism follows the abstract philosophy of the Zen sect. Tea master Sen no Rikyu received Zen training in this temple and held many tea ceremonies here. Paintings by Soami on the screens of the temple point to his hand in the design and construction of the garden.
The 8 acre Shin-in Garden (Garden of the Gods) is divided into four parts:
Heian no Sono (south): With its many cherry trees, It also contains many plants identified with passages from the famous Japanese novel, The Tale of Genji.
Seiho (west): The Byakko-ike (White Tiger Lake) is the centerpiece for the West Garden. In June, 2ooo iris are in bloom in the lake here.