Heavenly Dragon Temple, or Tenryu-ji, is best known for its zen garden, a long and winding path lined with thousands of towering bamboo stalks.
Tenryū-ji — more formally known as Tenryū Shiseizen-ji — is the head temple of the Tenryū branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. Founded by Ashikaga Takauji in 1339 and originally headed by Musō Soseki, the temple was built primarily to venerate Gautama Buddha. While the rest of the temple was rebuilt after burning down, the zen garden has survived, uninterrupted, since its planting.
As a temple related to both the Ashikaga family and Emperor Go-Daigo, the temple is held in high esteem, and is ranked number one among Kyoto’s so-called Five Mountains, or Kyoto Gozan. In 1994, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”.
The bamboo trail can be accessed via the North Gate.
Know Before You Go
You can arrive at Tenryu-ji by city bus or by JR train from Kyoto station to Saga Arashiyama station (嵯峨嵐山駅). take the south exit and walk down the street for about 200 meters (220 yards), then make a right turn just before you get to the train tracks (different line). You will walk straight into Tenryu-ji after 350 meters (380 yards).
Despite its supposed name, the bamboo trail is located outside the grounds of Tenryu-ji Temple. It’s also known as the Sagano Bamboo Forest.