Cultural Excursion-Nanzenji Temple



The ISS 2017 has organized a cultural excursion at Nanzen-ji, Kyoto on June 27, 2017. The excursion will offer registered delegates an opportunity to experience one of the most renowned Zen temples in Japan, and learn its rich history and cultural highlights.

Space is limited (30 registered delegates only!), and there is an additional admission fee for Nanzen-ji (500 JPY at participants’ own expense). If you have already registered for the conference and wish to attend the excursion, write to Please include your registration confirmation number in your request. Please see the descriptions below for more information.

Originally constructed in the 13th century, Nanzen-ji is the head temple of one of the schools within the Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism. Participants can enjoy a ninety-minute guided tour in the temple and discover the history behind the architecture and cultural implication of Zen garden. The tour concludes at 11:00 a.m. Kyoto International Community House is about 15-minute walk from the temple.


Venue: Nanzen-ji
Date: June 27, 2017
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Front gate of Kyoto International Community House
Meeting time: 9:30 a.m.
Admission fee: 500 JPY (at participants’ own expense)
Maximum number of participants: 30

Sign up soon for our cultural excursion at Nanzen-ji!



nanzenjiNanzenji Temple (南禅寺), whose spacious grounds are located at the base of Kyoto’s forested Higashiyama Mountains, is one of the
most important Zen temples in all of Japan. It is the head temple of one of the schools within the Rinzai sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism and includes multiple subtemples, that make the already large complex of temple buildings even larger.

The history of Nanzenji dates back to the mid-13th century, when the Emperor Kameyama built his retirement villa at the temple’s present location and later converted it into a Zen temple. After its founding, Nanzenji grew steadily, but its buildings were all destroyed during the civil wars of the late Muromachi Period (1333-1573). The oldest of the current buildings was built after that period.

Nanzenji’s central temple grounds are open to the public free of charge, but separate fees apply for entering temple buildings and subtemples. Visitors will first come across Nanzenji’s massive Sanmonentrance gate, which extends over the treetops. The gate was constructed in 1628 by the ruling Tokugawa clan for soldiers who died in the siege of Osaka Castle in 1615. It is possible to climb up to the gate’s balcony, from where the view extends across the city. Behind the gate is the Hatto (Dharma Hall), a large lecture hall which cannot be entered by the public.

Past the Hatto is the Hojo, the former head priest’s residence and Nanzenji’s main hall. The Hojo is most famous for its rock garden whose rocks are said to resemble tigers and cubs crossing through water. Also highly regarded are the paintings on sliding doors (fusuma), which include a more realistic depiction of tigers on gold leaf. Visitors enter the Hojo building complex through the former temple kitchen (kuri), where they can also find a small tea room to their right with a view of a miniature waterfall.

640px-nanzenji_aqueduct_-_iimg_5411Outside the Hojo visitors will come across a rather odd sight: a large brick aqueduct that passes through the temple grounds. Built during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the aqueduct is part of a canal system that was constructed to carry water and goods between Kyoto and Lake Biwa in neighbouring Shiga Prefecture. Paths run alongside the canal that lead into the surrounding forest.