Tofukuji Temple

See the Oldest Zen Gate in japan

Tofukuji Temple is a renowned destination in Kyoto, Japan, known for its historical significance and stunning natural beauty. Located close to Fushimi-Inari Taisha, Tofukuji Temple attracts numerous tourists, especially during the autumn season when the foliage is at its peak. However, the temple’s charm extends beyond autumn, making it a worthwhile spot to visit throughout the year.

How to Get There

To reach Tofukuji Temple from Kyoto Station, visitors can take either the JR Nara Line or the Keihan Line and get off at Tofukuji Station. From there, it is just a short 10-minute walk to the temple grounds. The convenient transportation options make it easily accessible for both local and international tourists.

An Ancient Temple

Founded in 1236, Tofukuji Temple holds great historical significance as one of the major Zen temples in Kyoto. The temple complex encompasses 25 sub-temples, each with its own unique features and attractions. Many of the buildings within the temple grounds, including the zendo (meditation hall), date back to the Muromachi period (1338-1573), showcasing the distinctive Zen architecture of that era.

One of the highlights of Tofukuji Temple is the grand Sanmon entrance gate, which is considered the oldest Zen gate in Japan. This gate was rebuilt in 1425 after a fire destroyed its predecessors, and it stands as a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of the temple.

Unique Gardens

Tofukuji Temple is also renowned for its four exquisite gardens, all of which were created in the 1930s. Each garden faces a different direction and showcases a distinct combination of elements such as gravel, stone, moss, and trees. Among them, the northern garden stands out with its intricate checkerboard pattern, created by alternating stones and square patches of moss. Visitors can enjoy a serene view of the Tsuten-kyo, also known as the Bridge to Heaven, from a deck located behind the gardens.

Join a Zazen Meditation Session

For those seeking a deeper spiritual experience, Tofukuji Temple offers Zen meditation sessions in Japanese. These sessions take place approximately four times a month, providing visitors with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the practice of meditation. It is advisable to have a Japanese speaker accompany you to assist with inquiries and understanding the instructions during the session.

Recommended for You

In addition to Tofukuji Temple, there are other attractions in Kyoto that are worth exploring. One such recommendation is Eikando, also known as Zenrinji Temple. This temple is famous for its stunning autumn foliage, similar to Tofukuji Temple. It offers a tranquil atmosphere and picturesque scenery, making it a popular spot for visitors seeking a peaceful retreat.


Tofukuji Temple is a must-visit destination for those interested in Japanese history, Zen Buddhism, and natural beauty. With its ancient buildings, unique gardens, and the oldest Zen gate in Japan, the temple offers a fascinating glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage. Whether you visit during the vibrant autumn season or any other time of the year, Tofukuji Temple promises a memorable and enriching experience. So, make sure to include this remarkable temple in your itinerary when exploring the beautiful city of Kyoto.

Address And Maps Location:

15-778 Honmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu

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