February 8, 2019

by Haruko Ishii and Mai Kobayashi

Arashiyama is a very popular spot in Kyoto thanks to its history, nature, and clean air. Tenryuji is one of the famous temples here and was registered as a world heritage site in 1994. Kyoto has a lot of temple and shrine which was registered as a world heritage. In this article, we focus on Tenryuji.

Gate of Tenryuji

Inside the temple grounds

The temple’s garden was made by Musou Soseki. Musou Souseki is Japanese priest. He had been lived from 1275 to 1351. This garden is Japanese style and karesansui. This word means the ‘expression of water flow through rocks and sand.’  The view of this garden changes each season. In spring, you can see the view of cherry blossoms. Autumn is especially beautiful because you can see the red, green and yellow leaves. In the autumn season, are a lot of people visit Arashiyama and Tenryuji, not only oversea tourists but also Japanese people. A good time to visit is in the morning and in mid-November.

If you visit in the early morning, you can feel at one with the beautiful nature: the sound of water, the warmth of the sunrise, the natural sound of trees, the smell of the trees and so on. Try sitting on the tatami closing your eyes and feel the nature. Inside the main hall, there is a painting of a ‘cloud dragon’ on the ceiling. You can see it just on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and the special public day in spring and autumn. The painting of the dragon is very big and beautiful. If you go the inside Tenryuji, you have to pay cash. Adults (high school student and older), pay 500 yen, elementary school and junior high school students pay 300 yen, and younger children go in for free.


Garden of Tenryuj



Akusejo of Tenryuji

An akusejo is the certificate of the temple. The meaning of certification is the evidence of visiting. You can do this at any temple, but each place has its own book design to collect them.

akusejo of Tenryuji have been starting from the Edo period (1603 to 1867). Originally, akusejo was the stamp that people could receive from a temple when they hand-copied sutras for temples and shrines. The akusejo includes the name of the temple, the date of the visit, and kakuou-houden(覚王寶殿) which means ‘to go and worship’. Kakuou (覚王)means ‘to respect Buddha’ and houden(寶殿) means the temple building where Buddhist images are enshrined for worshipping Buddha. Nowadays, people present their books to the staff of the temple who write these phrases in their own hand writing to mark their visit to the shrine.


Event of Tenryuji

There are event in Tenryuji. Especially I recommend to participate Zazen(坐禅). The reason why Japanese people do Zazen is finding yourself. In order to live the way you want, Japanese people practice Zazen. If you practice Zazen, you can take stresss-free life.

There are three points when you practice Zazen. First, you have to prepare your bodies. Second, ajust your posture and third, ajust your breathing. You can practice Zazen at Tenryuji every second month Sunday and 9am to 10am. You don’t need appointment and entry fee. However, in February, July and August don’t hold.


Getting to Tenryuji


There are three ways to get there. The first is by bus and takes about 30 minutes from Kyoto Station to Arashiyama Station. There are many buses going to Arashiyama, but the most direct bus is number 28. The number and the Chinese characters“嵐山”are on the front of the bus. A one-way adult ticket costs 230 yen, children are half-price, and of course, babies can ride for free. If you intend to take buses all day, you could get the all-day ticket which costs 600 yen.

The other way is that you can go by train. First, take the JR train from Kyoto Station to Saga Arashiyama Station. It takes about 20 minutes. Change here to the Randen Line and get off at Arashiyama Station. It takes about 2 minutes. If you get off Randen, you could arrive Tenryuji by going to the right.

Alternatively, you can ride the train from Kyoto Station to Shijo Station. Then, change to the Hankyu Line from Karasuma Station to Katsura Station. Finally, you have to change the train at Katsura Station to the Arashiyama Hankyu Line and get off at Arashiyama Station.

Once you arrive, there are many shops in Arashiyama and there is also the famous Togetsukyou Bridge. If you use the Hankyu Line to go to the Tenryuji, you have to cross the bridge and go straight.


There are many famous temples and places to enjoy in Kyoto, but if you want to feel the natural beauty of Japan, put Tenryuji on your list!



Zazen Zen Meditation

by Nanase Hayashi

Haven’t you ever felt that Japanese traditional things, such as temples and gardens, are naturally simple? The basis of Japanese culture is Zen, a philosophy which aims at simplicity. You may wonder, what is the importance of being simple? It is a return to a fundamental existence. All of us are constantly thinking, our heads full of noise: desires, ideas, worries, memories, images, bits of music, sounds from the outside. But we need to let them go, to once again be able to feel with a pure heart and mind.

Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual routine.”
―Shunryu Suzuki
Zazen is seated meditation, a Zen Buddhist practice to achieve enlightenment. Originally it was created by Buddha in India and
was imported and changed considerably in China. After that, a Japanese monk brought it to Japan. In some Zen Buddhist sects,
trainee monks do zazen for a long term as part of their training, even without eating or sleeping. It is very hard, especially for beginners, to completely clear the mind, but the most important thing during meditation is concentrating on breathing. Focusing just on breathing, or the most basic human activity, is the best way to be close to “zero”. If you keep on sitting and separating from all the things of daily life, it will also make you calm and relaxed both mentally and physically.

[How to Do Zazen]

Zazen classes are usually divided into several sessions and the burning of a stick of Japanese incense called okou is used to time a session. Before and after a session, we bow with our hands in gasshô pose (palms together, finger tips pointing upward).
1. Sit cross-legged on a cushion called zabu.
(Place your right foot over your left thigh and your left foot over your right thigh — or placing only one foot over the other thigh is easier for beginners.)
2. During zazen, place your hands together as the figure on your legs.
3. Relax your shoulders, straighten your back and then breathe slowly and calmly.
4. If you have a lapse in concentration during a session, you can request to be struck on your shoulders with a wooden stick called keisaku. Striking the shoulders helps you reconcentrate since there are pressure points on the shoulders. Wait with your hands in the gasshô pose, and and then you and the priest or monitor will bow to each other. You bend your body forward to accept the keisaku.

If you’d like to observe Japanese culture, I’d definitely recommend you to try zazen. You can find an essence of Japanese spirit in it. Shunko-in Temple, which is a sub-temple located near the north gate of Myoshinji Temple in Kyoto’s Ukyo ward, offers you the best Zazen class in English for non-Japanese visitors. Shunko-in is a special Zen-based temple that also has connections to Shinto and Christianity; they are shown by its garden symbolizing Ise Grand Shrine and its sliding door paintings depicting Christians who took refuge at the temple from persecution during Japan’s feudal period. If you join the temple tour of Shunko-in, you can see them before or after the zazen class. Both of them are worth seeing.


42 Myoshinji-cho, Hanazono, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8035 JAPAN
Tel: 075-462-5488
⇒Visit the temple’s website for details


-Take the JR Sagano line from JR Kyoto Stn. to Hanazono Sta.(10-15min.).
The south gate of the Myoshinji Temple complex is a short walk from the station.

-Take Kyoto City Bus #26 from Kyoto Sta. or Shijo Karasuma, and get off at Myoshinji Kitamon-mae bus stop(30-40min.).
-Take Kyoto City Bus #10 from Sanjo Keihan and get off at Myoshinji Kitamon-mae bus stop.