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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.


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.

Myoshin-ji Temple

The pond garden at Myoshin-ji is one of Kyoto's most modern outdoor spaces. Constructed in the 1960s, the garden shows off design from the Showa period meant for contemplation and appreciation of beauty. 

Sento Gosho Garden

The walled garden in the Kyoto Imperial Palace Park is reminiscent of ancient era when moats and wide-open spaces were more common than towering high rises. You'll find more greenery and ponds than buildings at Sento Gosho, which can only be visited on guided tours.

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Kyoto Sagano Bamboo Grove & Arashiyama Walking Tour (No Yakatabune Lunch Cruise)

Kyoto Sagano Bamboo Grove & Arashiyama Walking Tour (No Yakatabune Lunch Cruise)

Wander among peaceful bamboo groves and elegant mountain temples of rural Japan as you explore the fascinating areas of Arashiyama and Sagano near Kyoto during this 4-hour walking tour. Meander among the bamboo groves of Sagano before checking out the ancient 14th century Tenryu-Ji Temple and the secluded Jojakko-Ji Temple, hidden among the forest. Finish with a trip across the iconic Togetsukyō Bridge. Your morning walking tour also includes pickup from select hotels in Kyoto, a guide and all entrance fees.
  • 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Taking safety measures
Taking safety measures

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