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東福寺 Tofukuji Temple

  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
  • Fushimi Area
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Fushimi Area
15-778 Hommachi, Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 605-0981, Japan
  • Buildings (Temples / Shrines / Cathedrals)
Opening Hours
[April-October]9:00-16:00, [November-beginning of December]8:30-16:00, [Beginning of December-March]9:00-15:30
Date of post:2016/08/16

See the autumn foliage of Tofukuji temple, and die.

  • Temple / Shrine

The title of this article is a famous statement said by a visitor from overseas.
It is so beautiful to make people say that.
Japanese maple trees have rather small-sized leaves, like baby hands, than other foreign maple trees.
The beauty of the autumn foliage of Tofukuji temple comes from the color gradation caused by layered Japanese maple leaves on so many crossed twigs and branches.

Built in 1256, Tofukuji temple in Zen Buddhism was named after both “To” of Todaiji temple and “Fuku” of Kofukuji temple with an old prestigious tradition in Nara.

It’s a five minute-walk to the entrance gate from Tofukuji station on the JR and Keihan railway lines.
It is located in the vicinity of Fushimi-inari Taisha shrine, within 2 kilometers apart between the station and the shrine.
Some people walk and enjoy the view of the city from Fushimi-inari to Tofukuji temple, which takes approximately 15 minutes.

Tofukuji temple has its own parking lot for taxis, therefore anyone can easily approach the main Buddhist Hall, a temple gate registered as a Japan’s National Treasure, and the gardens.
Be aware that the grounds are laid with gravel or not paved in certain places.
Tofukuji’s grounds are vast, with the main temple and 25 smaller temples, some of which are not open for general sightseeing.
There are two different style gardens.
One is Tsutenkyo, lying across a valley under the bridge of the temple.
The other is Hasso garden, surrounding the Hojo, Abbot’s hall, with four kinds of gardens on four sides of the temple.

You can spend more than three hours enjoying all areas of the temple peacefully.

Admissions: 400 yen (Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando Hall), 400 yen (Hojo and gardens)

Date of post:2015/04/23

A Zen Buddhism temple which retains the magnificent scale characteristic of a medieval Zen temple

  • Historic / Cultural Experiences

Tofukuji temple is the head temple of the Tofukuji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. Originally this temple was built in 1236 by a great statesman of the Kamakura Period who wanted to build the large temple complexes in Kyoto like ones in Nara. Even its name Tofukuji got its name one by one from the names of Todaiji and Kofukuji (these are temple complexes in Nara). Many buildings were burnt and were rebuilt in the course of time, but the temple retains the magnificent scale characteristic of a medieval Zen temple.

The Sanmon gate, a National treasure, is the oldest, greatest and most gorgeous of all Zen Buddhist Temple Gates in Japan completed in 1425. Since then, some minor repairing works were made on them. And a large scale disassembling and repairing works were conducted by the Ministry of Culture. It took almost 9 years to complete the refurbishing with the cost of 2.5 million dollars. In constructing the gate the Great Buddha’s building method was applied. It is unique and really magnificent. Standing in front of the gate, I can’t stop sighing in admiration. It measures 22 meter (72.18ft) in height and has two-stories. It is the most outstanding feature of Tofukuji Temple. In front of the gate an arched bridge spans a pond and lotuses are planted in the pond which reminds me that this is the gate to Buddha’s Paradise. On the right side of this gate stands a building called “Tosu” which literally means toilets. Taking a look at inside, I consider the strict training of Zen Buddhism.

Its other outstanding features are four gardens arranged at the four quarters of Hojo (one of the main buildings of the Tofukuji). A famous Japanese garden-builder Mirei Shigemori in the 20th century laid out all the gardens. In the making of the garden, he was asked not to waste materials used in former ones. Observing this order, he laid out these gardens with the intention of expressing the simplicity of Zen in Kamakura period with the abstract construction of modern arts. These gardens are modern, but miraculously integrated into the traditional Zen temples.

In its precincts, Tofukuji has three valleys-north, middle and south, and three bridges span the middle valley up to Kaisando building. This valley is very famous for its colored maple leaves in autumn.

Tofukuji has 35 buildings and minor temples in its grounds, some are open to the public throughout the year.

*Reference: Home page of Tofukuji
Kyoto visitor’s guide

  • * The information above is from the date of the review. Please be aware that some of the content may vary from the most recent information.
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