Sanzen-in is a Tendai-sect temple in which imperial family members served in the priesthood. It is located in Ohara, a rural town in northern Kyoto City, about one hour north of Kyoto Station.

It began as a single structure raised by Saicho (767-822) after he built himself a simple hermitage on Mt. Hiei. 

Yusei-en a garden of moss growing among closely spaced trees spreads out before the Shinden. A small structure called Ojo-gokurakuin stands in one corner of the garden. An Important Cultural Property it is representative of the 10th-12th centuries. 

Sanzen-in's principal object of worship, a golden statue of the Amida Buddha, is displayed in the Ojo-Gokuraku-in, the temple's much photographed wooden building in the moss covered garden. This is a rare work in that the Kannon Bodhisattva on the left of the Amida Nyorai and the Taiseishi Bodhisattva on the right are not cross-legged.

The temple is justly famous for its large garden: an old wooden sub-temple sits in what looks like a still sea of green moss, penetrated by a few tall cedars and carefully-placed rocks and shrubs. Elsewhere on the grounds are ponds stocked with colorful carp, stone statues of Jizo, the protector of children and souls in limbo, and a hillside crammed with rocks, shrubs and trees.

The garden is in its glory in autumn, when large crowds gather to witness the fall colors. During any season however, Sanzen-in Temple is worth a visit, as much for its statuary as its scenery.

A visit to Sanzen-in Temple can easily be combined with a visit to nearby Jakko-in Temple, as well as to more recently-developed hot spring baths.

Off Road

The pleasant road from the Ohara bus stop to Sanzen-in leads along a small river and is lined by numerous souvenir shops. Among the local specialties offered are various pickles, including "Ice Kyuri", Japanese cucumbers mildly pickled in seaweed flavored ice water. 


540 Raigoin-cho Ohara Sakyo-ku.
Tel: 075-744-2531 | Fax: 075-744-2480

By Bus
Kyoto Bus: Ohara stop - walk 10 min.

8:30am - 5:00pm daily (December through February 4:30pm).

About 50 minute(s).

700 yen (For groups of 30 and above; 600 yen; Disabled people - free.

Reservations required for guided tours or for groups (book by fax).