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Gardens you must visit in Kyoto - The Kansai Local guide on Gardens in Kyoto

Kyoto is famous for its stunning gardens, as well as temples and shrines of course. Known as the cultural capital of Japan, there are over 2500 shrines and temples in Kyoto, but just as so, the gardens of Kyoto are numerous and well worth visiting. In fact, Kyoto even has its own style of gardening which is known all over the world. Here we have our top recommendation of the best gardens to visit in Kyoto. Here are our favourite/top 4 gardens in Kyoto.

Murin-an

Built in around 1895 by a military and political leader Yamagata Torimoto, Murin-an is a fine example of classical promenade garden style of Meiji period. Murin-an is in the beautiful Higashiyama district of Kyoto, which is one of the oldest and most historical of Kyoto and indeed Kansai. The actual garden is supplied by water from Lake Biwako, which is Japan's largest lake, just over the hills from Kyoto. 

What's particularly beautiful about Murin-an is the way it has been laid out in what seems like a random fashion, yet is perfectly designed to be aesthetically pleasing. Also, the moss here is beautiful (The Japanese, especially Kyoto folk, regard moss as almost sacred). 

►Opening times: 9:00 - 17:00

►Entry price: 600 yen 

Tap here for google maps

The main tea house part of Murinan

The main tea house part of Murinan

Murinan garden

Murinan garden

Murinan garden

Murinan garden

You can see the mountains over Higashiyama from Murinan garden main tea house building.

You can see the mountains over Higashiyama from Murinan garden main tea house building.

The moss at Murinan is particularly beautiful

The moss at Murinan is particularly beautiful

Inside the small tea house in the garden

Inside the small tea house in the garden

Tenjuan (Tenju-an)

Tenjuan is actually a temple and was built to commemorate the founder of Nanzeji (one of the main temples in Kyoto), Daiminkokushi Mukanfumon. So actually, Tenjuan is one of the most important temples of the Nanzenji family, and the garden is very beautiful. You won't find many tourists here. A great place to come and really feel the Kyoto style and vibe of serenity and peace. 

►Opening times: 9:00 - 17:00

►Entry price: 500 yen

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Cyprus bark thatching. An old and common thatching of the traditional areas of Kyoto.

Cyprus bark thatching. An old and common thatching of the traditional areas of Kyoto.

Sit, relax, meditate and enjoy the sun at Tenjuan

Sit, relax, meditate and enjoy the sun at Tenjuan

A beautiful old lantern in the garden of Tenjuan

A beautiful old lantern in the garden of Tenjuan

Part of the main temple building in the garden of Tenjuan

Part of the main temple building in the garden of Tenjuan

Tenjuan has an impressive pond with lots of wildlife

Tenjuan has an impressive pond with lots of wildlife

Pretty Koi in the pond of Tenjuan garden. Often, Koi can fetch up to 10,000 dollars!

Pretty Koi in the pond of Tenjuan garden. Often, Koi can fetch up to 10,000 dollars!

Konchi-in

Built-in the 15th century by the Military leader (Shogun) Ashikaga Yoshimochi, Konchi-in is a small sub-temple of the Nanzenji temple complex, and again, the main draw to visiting Konchi-in is the stunning garden, also known as the Crane and Turtle garden, as it has rock islands in the middle of a sea of pebbles, which resemble a Crane and Turtle. 

Like Tenjuan, one of the draws to Konchi-in is the lack of tourists and crowds. Come here and sit in peace, even mediate in the Garden. You’re welcome. 

►Opening times: 8:30 - 16:30 (17:00 March-Nov) 

►Entry price: 400 yen

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Beautiful moss at Konchi-in

Beautiful moss at Konchi-in

Secret little path in the garden of Konchi-in

Secret little path in the garden of Konchi-in

Mysterious shards of lights on the moss. How beautiful

Mysterious shards of lights on the moss. How beautiful

The Crane and Turtle garden

The Crane and Turtle garden

Nanzen-ji Temple Daineiken Garden 

A former sub-temple of Nanzen-ji (one of the biggest, most beautiful and most important temples in Kyoto) before the government confiscated the land. Now it’s privately owned and open to the public (it only opened recently in the past 2 weeks, mid-november 2019 at time of this article being written). The garden was built in the late Meiji era and is a well-known ‘Chisenkaiyu’ which is a style of garden that emphasizes a stroll around a pond. 

►This garden is a particularly peaceful and pretty garden of Kyoto, especially during the fall season where the autumn colors (Koyo) are stunning. 

►Entry price: 500 yen

►Opening times: 9:00-16:00

Click here for google maps

Kansai Local are doing private tours and adventures to places that tourists don't know about. If this sounds awesome, get in touch with us and we will get back to you! 

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