Tenryu-ji, the heavenly Dragon Temple, is the headquarters of the Tenryu sect of Rinzai Zen Buddhism in Japan. Ashikaga Takauji erected the temple in 1339 to honor Gautama Buddha. Muso Soseki was appointed as the temple’s chief priest. Situated in Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo Ward in Kyoto, it is regarded as the chief temple among Kyoto’s “Five Great Zen Temples.”
The temple suffered repeated devastations by fire and war over its history. The great fires suffered by the temple occurred in 1358, 1367, 1373, 1380, 1447 and 1467. The Onin War also inflicted damage upon the temple. The Hamaguri Rebellion in 1864 caused severe damage to the temple. The present structures of the temple date to the Meiji period.
Tenryu-ji’s landscape garden was designed by Muso Soseki, the temple’s founding abbot and renowned garden designer. The garden is regarded as one of the oldest of its kind. The garden is a display of Zen style pond encircling the garden with Arashiyama and Kameyama mountain ranges as its background.
The rock garden in the temple pond and landscape is symbolic of the carp in the pond ascending to heaven and transforming into the "heavenly dragon." The higher the carp ascends, the more it transforms into the dragon.
Entrance to the main temple
The pond is famous for a rock garden that has the appearance of cliffs on a Sung Dynasty landscape painting. On the other side of the pond is the symbolic recreation of the carp rising above the pond to ascend into heaven to transform into the heavenly dragon.
Path up to "nostalgic hill" for a view
View from the top of the hill
Japanese ink well monument in stone
The temple is designed to bring nature inside
It is forbidden to lie down
Another use of Shakkei (using the natural scenery around it). Both the Sogenchi pond and Arashiyama Mountain are special scenic spots.