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Finding Zen: Kyoto's Best Gardens


Finding Zen: Kyoto's Best Gardens

Kyoto's history as the former capital of Japan and a leader in architecture and design makes it one of the best cities to see traditional Japanese gardens. From temple zen gardens to lush green spaces, here are the spots you won't want to miss.

Ryoan-ji

This temple is one of the most popular in the city, famous for its zen rock garden frequented by monks and travelers. Wander the grounds and find peace at the sparse, dry garden before checking out the temple's main buildings. If you're interested in learning about dry landscape gardens, consider a scholar-led walking tour of Kyoto's landscape.

Okochi-sanso Villa

The Okochi-sanso Villa is one of Kyoto's best gardens for a stroll thanks to its lush green environment. A stone pathway winds through the area, where green growth of every variety greets visitors. Okochi-sanso Villa is a popular stop on Arashiyama and Sagano walking tours—be sure to also visit the nearby Sagano bamboo groves.

Tenryu-ji Temple

Built in 1345 and declared a UNESCO World-Heritage site in 1994, this zen temple features a beautiful garden with a circular pattern that surrounds the Sogen Pond. Tenryu-ji was designated a Special Place of Scenic Beauty of Japan for good reason.

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See all Kyoto tours
427 tours & tickets
Things to do in Kyoto
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Things to Do in Kyoto This Winter
Things to Do in Kyoto This Winter