Ranked number one of Kyoto's five great temples, Tenryu-ji celebrates a history dating back to 1339 and stands in dedication and memory to an ancient emperor. Many of the temple buildings have been destroyed over the centuries, but the temple's landscape garden remains much the same today as it did in the 14th century.
The garden boasts a clever and unique design that marries imperial taste with zen aesthetics. Lush foliage lines a shimmering pond, and as visitors walk from one end of the pond to the other, it appears as though the seasons change in front of their eyes. Intricate stonework on one hill represents a mountain stream cascading into the pond, while in another area stones appear to be carp fish. Visitors seek out the garden to be transported to another time.
The small Keifuku train line connects Kyoto with the city's Arashiyama district, and visitors should exit at the Keifuku Arashiyama Station for access to the temple. On the JR line from Kyoto Station, get off at the Saga-Arashiyama Station, and Tenryu-ji is a 5-10 minute walk. Entrance costs 500 yen ($5USD) and an additional 100 yen for access to the temple buildings ($1USD). The temple is open year from from 8:30am-5:30pm April through October and until 5pm from late October until late March. The temple's main buildings are undergoing renovations under March 2014, but the temple's garden is still open to the public.