Tenryu-ji is the most important temple in Arashiyama. It was ranked first among the city’s five great Zen temples, and is now registered as a world heritage site. It is the head temple of its own school within the Rinzai Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism.
Built in 1339 by the ruling shogun, the temple”s buildings have been repeatedly lost in fires and wars over the centuries, and most of the current halls, including the main hall (Hojo), drawing hall (Shoin) and temple kitchen (Kuri) with its distinctive small tower, date from the relatively recent Meiji Period (1868-1912).
Unlike the temple buildings, Tenryuji’s garden survived the centuries in its original form. Created by the famous garden designer Muso Soseki, who also designed the gardens of Kokedera and other important temples, the beautiful landscape garden features a central pond surrounded by rocks, pine trees and the forested Arashiyama mountains.
The Cloud Dragon on the ceiling of Tenryu-ji’s Dharma Hall (Hatto) was painted in 1997 by the renowned nihonga artist Kayama Matazo (1927-2004), as one of the projects commemorating the 650th anniversary of the death of Tenryu-ji’s founder, Muso Kokushi.