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The oldest Zen temple in Japan, Kennin-ji is located a short stroll from the Shijō or Gojō area at the River Kamo. Like other Rinzai branch Zen head temples, Kennin-ji itself is a complex containing several sub-temples, some of which are temporarily open, others which remain closed. Open year-round are the Hōjō Garden and the Dharma Hall (法堂). The Hōjō contains a lovely karesansui-style garden (Daiō-en 大雄苑), an iconic moss garden (Chōryū-tei 潮音庭), as well as several smaller gardens and a teahouse. In the Dharma Hall, a rather recent painting of dragons from 2002. The autumn foliage at the moss garden, without doubt beautiful, is among the last places for the maples to turn colour, with peak color often only around mid-December.
Sharing a personal anecdote, when I had to guide around a visitor from Europe who only had one day to discover the city a few years back, instead of a long bus ride to Ryōan-ji, I instead showed him the rock gardens at Kennin-ji.
On the grounds, a monument dedicated to tea (茶碑) can also be found. Allegedly, it was the Zen monk Eisai, who, some 800 years ago, had brought tea with him from China to Japan.

Admission: open year-round, opening at 10AM (one
Nearby places of interest: Yasaka Pagoda (Hōkan-ji), several sub-temples of Kennin-ji (Ryōsoku-in, Shōden Eigen-in, Reigen-in)

Moss garden at Kennin-ji.

Moss garden at Kennin-ji.

Spring 春
Summer 夏
Autumn 秋
Winter 冬
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