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Sanzen'in Temple: Stroll Through A Japanese Garden In Ōhara, Kyoto

Sanzen'in Temple: Stroll Through A Japanese Garden In Ōhara, Kyoto

Translated by MATCHA

Written by UCHACA

Kyoto 2015.06.16 Bookmark

Sanzen'in is located at Mount Ōhara, which is in the northeast of Kyoto and home to many famous Buddhist statues. What you may not know is that the garden inside is not to be missed either!


Sanzen'in Temple is located near Mount Ōhara, in the northeastern part of Kyoto. An hour by bus from Kyotostation, this temple is nonetheless a popular draw for visitors thanks to its Heian era statuary: the sculpture of Amida Nyorai with Kannon and Fudo Myō. What many may not know about this temple is that it also has a stunning Japanese garden, a sight that cannot be missed.

The Path to Sanzen'in


After reaching the Ōhara bus stop you will need to begin walking up a slope.


Alone the road to the temple you will find many shops and restaurants offering a wide variety of wares, such as Japanese pickles, souvenirs of the area, handmade goods and the like, as well as food stands with many different dishes to choose from. It's nice to take a break here and there and look at the shops on your way.


Now you can either climb up the steps or walk along the slope here to reach the temple grounds.


We have arrived at the gate to Sazen'in Temple.


A beautiful Japanese style garden welcomes you the second you walk inside.


Unlike the symmetrical aesthetics of a Western garden, Japanese gardens seems to be naturally disordered. This is because traditional Japanese aesthetic stresses the characters of each plant and each stone over the whole.

For example, three plants in different sizes are arranged in a scalene triangle. With this method, all the plants can be clearly viewed despite their sizes. A further point of Japanese design is to make small spaces appear larger than they are. The art of distance and depth is one of the characteristics of Japanese gardens.


One of the functions of Japanese gardens is to present the Buddhist universe and the World of the Gods through the charisma of nature. There are also gardens whose themes are based on old stories and poems.

Even the growth rate of the plants is calculated - this Japanese garden combines nature and human art together. For gardening fans and horticulturists, learning the theories and ideals behind these gardens is important, but for the casual observer leisurely enjoying the beauty of the garden is enough.

Being Healed by Little Warabe Jizo


The garden becomes bigger as you walk deep inside. A dense layer of moss covers most surfaces; unlike colorful Western gardens here you can feel the uniqueness of Japanese style. This quiet and peaceful atmosphere is known as wabi in Japanese.


Warabe Jizō can be found throughout the garden. Warabe Jizō is the Japanese deity that protects children, and is a familiar sight for anyone that has visited a temple or shrine before.


This is a Warabe Jizō with its head inclining quizzically.


Ansd this Warabe Jizō is lying on its stomach kicking its heels. There are many other Warabe Jizō hidden throughout this garden, so when you visit, why not try to find one that suits you best?


Sanzen'in Temple is certainly a place that feels worlds away from modern society. If you would like to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, enjoy a refreshing stroll in a fabulous garden and search for hidden Warabe Jizō, then this trek to Mount Ōhara in Kyotois perfect for you!


Sanzen'in Temple

Address: Kyoto, Sakyō, Ōhara, Raikōinchō 540
Hours: Mar-Oct 9:00-17:30, Nov 8:30-17:30, Dec-Feb 9:00-16:00 (last entry 30 minutes before closing)
Closed: None
Wi-fi: None
Other Languages: None
Nearest Station: Ōhara Bus stop (大原)
Access: At the C3 Platform of KyotoStation's central exit bus terminal, take the #17 bus to Ōhara for 1 hour, get off at the Ōhara bus stop and walk for 10 minutes to Sanzenin Temple.
Entrance Fee: 700 yen for adults, 400 yen for junior/senior high students, 150 yen for elementary students (Discounted group rates available for parties of over 30 people)
Religion: Buddhist
Phone Number: 075-744-2531
Website: KyotoŌhara Sanzenin

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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