Nanzen-ji Temple (Suirokaku,location,history)

Nanzen-ji Temple, Suirokaku

The information about Nanzen-ji Temple is presented here. Suirokaku at Nanzen-ji Temple is well known as a filming location for TV dramas. Suirokaku is located in the southeast of the temple, through which the First Sosui Branch of the Biwako Sosui flows. Suirokaku was designed and built in 1888 by Tanabe Sakuro, a civil engineer who was an official of the Kyoto prefectural government. Suirokaku is about 93.1 meters long, 4.06 meters wide, and 2.4 meters in diameter, with the highest point about 13 meters high.

【Nanzen-ji Temple Location Map & Directions】

Address: 86 Fukuji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Nanzenji-eikando-michi bus stop (about 5 minutes on foot), Higashitennocho bus stop (about 8 minutes on foot), Miyanomaecho bus stop (about 10 minutes on foot), Subway Keage Station (about 5 minutes on foot)

【Opening Hours & Closed (confirmation required)】

Opening Hours: 8:40-17:00 (March-November), 8:40-16:30 (December-February)
Closed: December 28th-31st

【Entrance Fees & Tickets (confirmation required)】

Individual: Adults 600 yen, High School Students 500 yen, Junior High School and Elementary School Students 400 yen

【Nanzen-ji Temple History】

The site of Nanzen-ji Temple (南禅寺) was built on the site of Saishoko-in Temple, a branch temple of Enjo-ji Temple (Mii-dera Temple) in Shiga Prefecture, which was founded by the monk Douchi. Saishoko-in Temple has since been abandoned. It is said that in 1264, the 88th Emperor Go-Saga built Zenrinji-dono (detached palace) as the Omiyain Gosho for his mother. Zenrin-ji-dono has the upper palace and the lower palace, and it is said that the Nanzen-in Temple (branch temple of Nanzen-ji Temple), which is the birthplace of Nanzen-ji Temple, was founded in 1287 when Jibutsudo was built in the upper palace. Incidentally, the name “Zenrinji-dono” comes from Zenrin-ji Temple, which was built on the north side of Nanzen-ji Temple and is also known as Eikando. Nanzen-ji Temple was founded in 1291, when the 90th Emperor Kameyama transformed it from a Zenrinji-dono into a Zen temple with Daimyo Kokushi Mukanfumon as its founder, and named it “Ryuanzan Zenrinzenji”. Nanzen-ji Temple became the first Zen temple initiated by the imperial family. It is said that Emperor Kameyama was troubled by yokai-henge (monster) that haunted Zenrinji-dono at night, but that Daimyo Kokushi Mukanfumon, together with his disciples, dispelled yokai-henge by simply sitting quietly in Zenrinji-dono, and was invited to establish Nanzen-ji Temple. After the death of Daimyo Kokushi Mukanfumon shortly after the founding of Nanzen-ji Temple in 1291, his disciple, Nanin Kokushi Kiansoen built the temple complex. When Nanzen-ji Temple was founded, there was no hall or pagoda to serve as a temple, and it is said that the temple was almost completed around 1305, the year Emperor Kameyama died. It is said that the temple complex was completed around 1299. During the Shoan period (1299-1302), Nanzen-ji Temple is said to have changed its name from “Ryuanzan Zenrinzenji” to “Taiheikoku Nanzenzenji”. In 1306, the 91st Emperor Go-Uda visited Nanzen-ji Temple, and issued a decree to the Kamakura Shogunate to make Nanzen-ji Temple equal to the Kamakura Gozan (Five Sacred Temples). In 1334, the 96th Emperor Godaigo ranked Nanzen-ji Temple as No.1 in the Gozan. In 1342, Ashikaga Takauji, the first shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, ranked Nanzen-ji Temple as No.1 in the Kyoto-Gozan. In 1385, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the third shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate, placed Nanzen-ji Temple at the top of the Kyoto Gozan and Kamakura Gozan, making Shokoku-ji Temple, which he had founded, No.1 in the Kyoto Gozan. Nanzen-ji Temple was destroyed by fire in 1393 and 1447, after which the main temple complex was rebuilt. In the mid-Muromachi period (1336-1573), the Onin War (1467-1477) destroyed much of the temple complex. During the Onin War, the Akamatsu army encamped on the hill behind the temple and fought against the Yamana army, etc. In 1568, Oda Nobunaga banned the army from using force in front of Nanzen-ji. In 1605, Konchiin Suden (Isshin Souden), who was an advisor to the Edo shogunate and was known as the “Kokuin-no-Saisho,” rebuilt the temple complex. Nanzen-in Temple was rebuilt in 1703. In 1876, it became independent from the Rinzai sect and became the head temple of the Nanzenji sect.In 1888, Suirokaku, a part of Biwako Sosui, was built. Biwako Sosui was planned by Kitagaki Kunimichi, governor of Kyoto Prefecture, as part of Kyoto’s modernization policy, and construction began in 1885 and was completed in 1894.
*reference・・・Nanzen-ji Temple website

【Nanzen-ji Temple Highlights (May be undisclosed)】

★Dai-Hojo (大方丈, National Treasure) was built in the Tensho period (1573-1593) as the Taimen-Goten of Nyoin Gosho (women’s imperial palace), and was moved to Nanzen-ji Temple in 1611. Sho-Hojo (小方丈, National Treasure) was built during the Kanei period (1624-1645). Dai-Hojo contains wall paintings (Important Cultural Property) by painters of the Kano school.
★San-mon (San-mon Gate, 三門, Important Cultural Property) was built in 1628 by Todo Takatora on the recommendation of Konchiin Suden (Isshin Souden). San-mon houses the statues of Hokan Shaka Nyorai, Gakkaichoja, Zenzaidoji, and Juroku-rakan on the second floor. San-mon is about 22 meters high and is considered one of the three great gates of Kyoto, along with San-mon of Chion-in Temple and Goeido-mon of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple.
★Chokushi-mon (Imperial Gate, 勅使門, Important Cultural Property) was built as Hinomikado of the Imperial Palace during the Keicho period (1596-1615), and was moved in 1641 as a gift from the 109th Emperor Meisho. Chokushi-mon has carvings of dragons, kylins, peacocks, pine trees, peonies, clouds, and waves.
南禅寺見どころ(Nanzen-ji Temple Highlights)

【Flower Calendar (cherry blossoms, etc )】

★The best time to see cherry blossoms (桜) is around early April. About 100 cherry trees, including Somei-Yoshino, Yama-zakura, Yae-zakura, and weeping cherry, are planted, and it is said that the scenery of the cherry blossoms, the 22-meter-high San-mon and Suirokaku is beautiful. You can also go up to San-mon and look at it.
★The best time to see autumn leaves (紅葉) is from mid-November to late November. About 300 maple trees and other plants are distributed, and it is said that the scenery of the autumn leaves, the 22-meter-high San-mon and Suirokaku is beautiful. You can also go up to San-mon and look at it.
★The best time to see hagi (bush clover, 萩) is around mid-September. Hagi are planted in front of Hato and along the approach to the sub-temple, and it is said that the scenery of hagi, Hato and the approach to the sub-temple is beautiful.
(The best time to see the plants depends on the climate of the year.)

【Telephone (Please refrain from making phone calls.)】

Tel: +81-75-771-0365

【Recommended Walking Route】

The recommended walking route from Nanzen-ji Temple is to Eikando Temple (Zenrin-ji Temple) on the north side of the temple. Eikando is considered one of the most famous places in Kyoto for its autumn foliage, and is recommended during the autumn foliage season. The Philosopher’s Path extends north from Eikando, and a walk along this path is also recommended. The Philosopher’s Path is one of the most famous cherry blossom viewing places in Kyoto and is recommended during the cherry blossom season.

【Remarks(access, parking, disclaimer, etc)】
If you plan to visit Nanzen-ji Temple, be sure to check the latest information.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山