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Shōren-in is a Tendai branch temple, and is one of five “monzeki,” temples whose head priests originally have belonged to the Imperial family. It is located between Maruyama Park and Heian Shrine, and offers a wet-landscape moss garden at its center, as well as several buildings, and even a small bamboo grove to discover. Shōren-in was one of the temples I had visited on my very first visit to Kyōto in 2008, and I remember that I did enjoy the different sides this temple offered me. Every garden in this temple seems different, and it is easy to just sit down and forget time.
Perhaps the best season for this temple is in early summer, when the Kirishima Rhododendron are blooming (late April–early May). Special night-time illuminations held regularly throughout the year are, unlike many similar such events, quite nice too, as the temple uses quite interesting lighting in one of its gardens. Seiryū-den, a temple located on top of the nearby mountain, belongs to Shōren-in. If you have enough time, I recommend visiting both.

Admission: open year-round
Nearby places of interest: Heian Shrine, Chion-in, Maruyama Park and Yasaka Shrine

Kirishima Tsutsuji flowers blooming at Shōren-in.

Kirishima Tsutsuji flowers blooming at Shōren-in.

Early Summer 初夏
Summer 夏
Autumn 秋
Winter 冬