8 Beautiful Kyoto Gardens Worth Visiting for Stunning Japanese Scenery

Kyoto is known for its incredible gardens that are designed with to showcase Japanese beauty with its natural paradise-like landscape. This article will introduce 8 of the best gardens that you'll want to be sure to visit on your next trip to Kyoto!


Things to Do

1. Katsura Imperial Villa  | Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto


Katsura Imperial Villa is prized around the world, and has even been praised by renowned German architect Bruno Taut and Grace Kelly. In the Heian era (794 - 1185), it was used as a villa by Fujiwara no Michinaga, and today, it is known as an elegant spot for moon viewing. It is managed by the Imperial Household Agency, so advance reservations are required for viewings.

Address: Katsuramisono, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto | 京都府京都市西京区桂御園

Entry fee: Free (By advance appointment)

Viewing hours: Restrictions apply

Information: http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/katsura.html


2. Shugakuin Imperial Villa | Sakyo-ku, Kyoto


Shugakuin Imperial Villa is surrounded by mountains and lush nature. Historical architecture such as a Chinese-style building remains in the gardens, giving a sense of the place’s history. Located in a somewhat elevated area in Kyoto, these gardens also offer a wonderful view of the surrounding Kyoto mountains.

The Shugakuin Imperial Villa is also managed by the Imperial Household Agency. Make sure to book your viewing in advance!

Address: Shugakuin-yabuzoe, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto | 京都府京都市左京区修学院藪添

Entry fee: Free (By advance appointment)

Viewing hours: Restrictions apply

Information: http://sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/shugakuin.html


3. Ryoan-ji | Ukyo-ku, Kyoto

eiji ienaga/Flickr

Ryoan-ji is a World Heritage site known around the world for its beauty. Its vast expanse of stones laid at a ratio of 3/5/7 fascinates visitors from all over the world - you won't be able to see all of the stones no matter where you stand from! Ryoan-ji is also a famous place to visit for its spring cherry blossoms and autumn foliage. Looking out at these trees from the rock garden is sure to give you an unforgettable experience of Japan’s beauty.

Address:13, Ryoan-ji Goryonoshita-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Entry fee: High school students and adults: 500 yen / Elementary and middle school students: 300 yen 

Viewing hours: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Information: http://www.ryoanji.jp/smph/eng/


4. Entsu-ji | Sakyo-ku, Kyoto

Kotaro Iwaoka/Flickr

The natural mountains seen in Etsu-ji’s garden is a technique called shakkei, or “borrowed scenery”, a method in which you incorporate the view of mountains as a part of the garden. This garden has a very calming atmosphere. You’ll find yourself feeling as though you could stay looking at this beautiful scenery for hours.

Address: Iwakurahataeda-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto | 京都府京都市左京区岩倉幡枝町

Entry fee: High school students and adults: 500 yen / Elementary and middle school students: 300 yen 

Viewing hours: 10:00 am - 4:30 pm

Information: https://kanko.city.kyoto.lg.jp/detail.php?InforKindCode=1&ManageCode=1000020 (Japanese only)


5. Tenryu-ji | Ukyo-ku, Kyoto

Yu-Ching Chu/Flickr

The Sogenchi Teien (Sogen Pond Garden) of the temple complex incorporates the surrounding Arashiyama and Kameyama mountains into its layout. The garden gives a true sense of the changing seasons, with several cherry blossom varieties to enjoy in the spring, including Shidare, Yoshino, Yama-zakura, and Yae-zakura, as well as the autumn foliage and snow-covered garden in the winter.

Address: 68, Saga-Tenryu-ji, Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto | 京都府京都市右京区嵯峨天龍寺芒ノ馬場町68

Entry fee: High school students and adults: 500 yen / Elementary and middle school students: 300 yen 

Viewing hours: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm (Closes at 5:00 pm from October 21 - March 20)

Information: http://www.tenryuji.com/en/


6. Hosen-in | Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 


Ken Yamaguchi/Flickr

Hosen-in is a sub-temple of Shorin-in. View the garden from the temple’s reception hall for a beautiful garden frame. The garden’s Japanese white pine is 700 years old, and is a particularly spectacular sight. There is also a “chi-tenjo”, or blood-stained ceiling, that tells of the tragedy at Fushimi Castle. Linger over a cup of matcha tea as you take in these sights.

Address: 187, Oharashorin'in-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto | 京都府京都市左京区大原勝林院町187番地

Entry fee: Adults: 800 yen, Middle/High school students: 700 yen, Elementary school students: 600 yen 

Viewing hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm 

Information: http://www.hosenin.net (Japanese only)


7. Ninna-ji | Ukyo-ku, Kyoto

Ninna-ji is famous for its Nio-Mon Gate, which is considered one of the three major gates in the Kyoto area. Designated as a World Heritage site, this temple attracts visitors from around the world who come to see the seasonally changing colors of the trees. The North Garden features a pond and artificial hill, while the South Garden is beautifully laid out in white sand, so you can enjoy two gardens with very different atmospheres during your visit here.

Address: 33, Ouchi Omuro, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto | 京都府京都市右京区御室大内33

Entry fee: 500 yen 

Viewing hours: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm (Closes at 5:00 pm from December - February)

Information: http://www.kyoto-ga.jp/kyononiwa/2010/02/post.html (Japanese only)


8. Tofuku-ji | Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 

Tofuku-ji is very famous for its gorgeous autumn foliage. There are four gardens on the grounds, each with a different story to enjoy. The East Garden is designed to express the image of a constellation, while the South Garden is a dry rock garden. The North and West gardens are two different takes on a checkerboard pattern concept. All four gardens provide their own unique and artistic scenery to enjoy.

Address: 5-778, Honmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto | 東山区本町15丁目778

Entry fee: 400 yen 

Viewing hours: April - Late October: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, November - Early December: 8:30 am - 4:00 pm, Early December - Late March: 9:00 am - 3:30 pm  

Information: http://www.tofukuji.jp/english/index.html


Translated and republished with permission from:Relux Magazine


Title Image: Sergii Rudiuk / Shutterstock

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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