Kennin-ji (建仁寺、Kennin-ji temple) is located near Higashiyama, Kyoto; it is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. It was founded in 1202 CE by the monk Eisai（栄西）.
This is where you have to take off your shoes when entering the building. The wood platform that is laid on the floor is for you to step without your shoes on. A lot of people would think you could step on there with your shoes then take your shoes off, but it is actually opposite. Please be aware when you visit places in Japan, you will see areas like this very often especially at temples and shrines.
One of the selling point of Kennin-ji is one of a famous art work of Fujin (風神、God of Wind) and Raijin (雷神、God of thunder). It is even shown on history text books in Japan.
Another famous art work that is a must see at Kennin-ji is the Twin dragons drown on the ceiling of the main lecture hall of the temple (法堂 Hatou). It is such a powerful drawing when you see it in person. The drawing was done in 2002 to celebrate 800 years old of Kennin-ji and it took 2 years for it to finish!!
Other than the two famous art works, there are a lot of famous drawings on the fusuma (襖、paper sliding doors) in the temple.
It is really relaxing to wonder around the temple and enjoy the art works and the gardens. You can sit down anywhere as and spend as much time as you would like.
Kennin-ji is quite big so you could spend a lot of time here so I would recommend giving yourself enough time in your schedule when visiting this temple.
Especially when the weather is nice, it would be nice to sit on the hall way of the temple and enjoy the view in front of you.
It was sad that when we visited, the weather wasn’t very nice, hopefully there will be another chance to visit this beautiful temple again.
The garden will have a different expression every time you visit depending on the season. The best seasons to visit is either the summer or the fall; the leaves will be bright and green in the summer then it’ll all turn into beautiful red and orange colors in the autumn.
This garden has an interesting name of ○△□ Garden. Go find out directly why it is named that way.
Another nice thing about Kennin-ji is that it is located very close to a famous old shopping street called Hanami-Koji Dori (花見小路通、Hanami-koji dori street). You could go relax at Kennin-ji after or before you visit that street. It is a nice combination.
- Address: 〒605-0811 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, 大和大路通四条下る小松町584
- Access: Keihan Railway, Gion-Shijō Station（京阪本線、祇園四条駅）, 7 min on foot / Hankyu Railway, Kawaramachi station（阪急線、河原町駅）, 10 min on foot
- Opening hours: March – October 10:00 – 16:30 (Door closes at 17:00) ; November – February 10:00 – 16:00 (Door closes at 16:30); Temple is close from December 28th – December 31st
- Fees: Adults ￥500 ; Junior High / High School students ￥300
- Time needed: About 30 minutes
- Website: Kennin-ji (建仁寺) (Japanese only) / Kennin-ji (建仁寺) (English introduction)