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Ancient Kyoto – Tenryu-ji Temple

Ancient Kyoto – Tenryu-ji Temple

Tenryu-ji Temple, Kyoto

  • Author: sarsur
  • Date Posted: Jun 14, 2013
  • Category:
  • Address: Tenryu-ji Temple

Kyoto is a city located centrally on Honshu Island in Japan. In the olden days, it has been the royal capital of Japan for over 1000 years. It now happens to be capital of the Kyoto Prefecture. It also forms a big part of the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area. Kyoto used to be the primary center for garden design and for secular and architecture. That was in the days from the 8th to the 17th century. It was during this period that it had a pivotal role in creating the cultural traditions of Japan.

Tenryu-ji Templejohn weiss / / CC BY-ND

This was particularly true in the case of gardens that appeared to have a huge influence on the whole world after the 19th century. China had already passed on its Chinese and Buddhist influences. The city of Kyoto was developed on the lines of Chinese cities like Changshan, which was then the capital of Tang China.


After the war in the year 1185, a samurai military regime was set up at Kamakum but the imperial court continued to stay at Kyoto. Among the most significant examples of architecture of those times was the Sekisui-in at Kozan-ji. Even this one was over with the formation of the Muromachi Shogunate. It was during this time that very big temples of Rinzai Zen sect, like Temyu-ji, were built. This time also saw the makings of the beautiful Zen gardens. Saiho-ji is an example.

Koyoto Tenryu-ji Temple Garden7_nana / Nature Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

By the turn of the 14th century, Muromachi Shogunate had reached the peak of its regime that was mirrored in structures like Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. This later went on to become Rokuon-ji, a Buddhist temple. There was also a villa of a later shogun, called Ashikaga Yoshimasa that had been constructed in a sophisticated style. This one too was transformed into Jisho-ji. They decided to convert the Garden design into a form of pure art.

Woods around Ginkaku-ji
Ginkaku-ji, KoyotoJames Nash (aka Cirrus) / / CC BY-SA

Unfortunately, a large part of Kyoto was demolished during the Onin War that lasted between 1467 and 1477. However, a new urban class resurrected it again. This class substituted the nobles who had escaped when the war took place. Later, it was in 1568 that Oda Nobunaga rose to power. Toyotomi Hideyoshi followed him. Hideyoshi finally united Japan and constructed a 23-kilometer wall to surround Kyoto. This caused the center of power to shift to Edo which today we know as Tokyo. At this point, a Shogunate came to be formed under the Tokugawa Ieyasu. Their authority was given custom material in Kyoto along with building of the robust castle, Ngo-jo. At that time, Hideyoshi’s defenses were pulled to bits.

Construction and development of Tenryu-ji Temple:

Tenryu-ji Temple stands in the center of Sagano district. This is a very attractive tourist area in Kyoto. This Zen Buddhist temple has a beautiful Chisen-kaiyu-shiki garden. This was created by a genius garden designer by the name of Muso Soseki.  Sogen-chi pond and the arranged rocks of Ishigumi are very pretty. The head temple of Rinzai Zen sect is the Tenryu-ji. It also happens to be one of the seventeen World Cultural Heritage places in Kyoto.

In 1339, priest Muso Soseki proposed to Ashikaga Takauji – the first Muromachi Shogun, and brother Tadayoshi the construction of a temple to commemorate the deceased Emperor Go-Daigo. He was the one to have coordinated initially with samurai brothers to defeat the Kamakura Shogunate. There was immediate agreement with the priest. However, the just-established and new Shogunate government lacked adequate funds. They were compelled to start trading with China to be able to complete the Temple’s construction. In 1345, finally, the Zen temple was unveiled officially with Muso Soseki appointed its head priest. Sadly, the temple buildings have caught fire many times since then but they have been reconstructed each time and to this day this temple portrays the glory and beauty of its epoch.

Author: Teresa Jens works as a travel agent for one of the leading European travel companies.  One of her main duties is to find good flight (in Swedish flygresor) deals for her customers.

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