Built in 1264 and originally a detached palace of Emperor Kameyama, Nanzen-ji Temple was dedicated to Zen Buddhism in 1297. It is one of those city temples conveniently accessed by locals and tourists yet despite frequent crowd, it is surprisingly easy for one to find a little corner of silence and solitude within the parameter.
The temple’s Sannon entrance gate is massive and has a charismatic character in brown, making it look like it has been charcoaled through time. It was built in 1628 by Todo Takatora in memory of those who died in the civil war Oska Natsu-no-jin or the Seige of Osaka.
When visiting temples, shrines or castles in Kyoto, it is important to note that some zones are prohibited to access for some religious or regulatory reasons. There are also areas where taking photos are restricted and as a guest, be respectful of the rule and the custom and observe proper etiquette. The Hatto or Dharma Hall which was reconstructed in 1909, for example, is use only for conducting official rites and is not open to the public.
Nanzen-ji has a placid atmosphere yet it is a grandeur itself. This temple stands in everyone’s memory because of a structure one cannot miss – the aqueduct, locally called Sosui. It was unexpected to see such in places outside Rome. It was built during the Meiji Period as a waterway between Kyoto City and Lake Biwa in Shiga.
And why was this temple dedicated to Zen Buddhism? Accounts say that soon after the emperor took up residence here, ghosts are said to have appeared and of all priests, only the Zen Monk Mukan Fumon was able to restore the palace to peace.