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Tenryuji Temple is the head Buddhist temple of the Rinzai Zen sect founded in 1339 in Arashiyama, Kyoto. The temple was built by shogun Ashikaga Takauji who dedicated the temple to Emperor Go-Daigo after the Emperor passed away. While the two were friends during their life, the Emperor and Ashikaga had a falling out when Ashikaga opposed the Kemmu Restoration (a political event ran by the Emperor). Furious, the Emperor ordered for Ashikaga's capture and execution. However, Emperor Go-Daigo passed away and instead, Ashikage ordered this temple to be built in dedication to his friend. Today, Tenryuji Temple continues to be the most important temple in Arashiyama, ranked as one of the top five zen temples in Kyoto. Tenryuji Temple was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 under the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto".
When visiting Tenryuji Temple, guests are recommended to see the Cloud Dragon on the ceiling of Tenryu-ji's Dharma Hall. The dragon is painted in a unique way as if it were swirling out of the clouds and is looking straight at you. No matter where you stand, you won't be able to escape the dragon's gaze. There is also a painting of the great monk Daruma, a symbolic character of Zen Buddhist, on the temple grounds worth seeing. Before leaving the temple, be sure to visit the Sogen Pond Garden that uses shakkei techniques (
borrowed Scenery) to use the mountains to give the garden an extra sense of depth.
Explore this temple while in Arashiyama after a spirited rickshaw ride during our fully-guided line of Cherry Blossom Japan Tours or Anime Tours available spring or year-round. You can also customize a tour with us to include Tenryuji and the rest of Kyoto's can't miss destinations on a tailor-made vacation package!
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