Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto

Hi everybody! This is Susannah. I’m clarifying this because it recently hasn’t been me.

Anyway, I’m in charge of our Tofukuji post for our Kyoto bundle! This is because Tofukuji has been my favorite temple since I first came to Japan while in high school. The school which my classmates and I were meant to meet at happened to be located by Tofukuji, which meant I would walk past it every morning. Being jetlagged, I always woke up with plenty of time to spare, so I would often leave for school early, head over to Tofukuji, and hang out for a bit before meeting with my Japanese class.

When I would hang out there before my classes, I primarily would spend time at the north entrance, which is a well-known part of the temple; the entrance to the north has a bridge that overlooks a small creek surrounded by trees. This is one aspect of this temple that makes it very popular for leaf view events.

The view from the bridge.

The view from one of the bridges. There are a few that run parallel to each other.


The view from my favorite bridge.

A different bridge. This is the one I would hang out on.

A different bridge. This is the one I would hang out on.

That same different bridge.

That same different bridge only a few steps further along. As it’s a special bridge for me, I wanted to thoroughly capture it.

Tofukuji is well-known in Japan among the Japanese (when I returned to work last week, my colleagues and I discussed it and I was told I was a “minor American” but I’m pretty sure they meant I was a “rare American” for loving this temple), but foreigners rarely visit it. However, this time around, I noticed how surprised I was by the ornate architecture and overall design; I really couldn’t figure out why people don’t go there more often…

The ceiling of one of the main buildings.

The ceiling of one of the main buildings.

Here are some pictures to show the intricate architecture:


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Tofukuji is a Zen temple and it was established 750 years ago. For being as old as it is, it looks practically brand-new. The main draw, other than the architecture, goes back to how successful they were at creating a completely Zen atmosphere in the gardens. With no one else around, you are surrounded by the controlled chaos that is a manicured garden. You hear the birds around you, the water trickling down stream, and sometimes are lucky enough to notice a few cat paw prints in the raked stones (although that makes me pity the groundkeepers a bit).
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I’m glad I was able to share this place with some of the people I love. Even though it will always be a treasured place, going back to there didn’t let me or my memories down; it only left me wanting more.

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3 Responses to Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto

  1. Shanna Bryant says:

    I’m so glad you suggested going there. It was one of my favorite spots we visited. I saw cat paw prints, and just figured the groundskeeper would be all like, “Wabi Sabi”…


  2. Leda says:

    Is Wabi Sabi Japanese for que sera, sera?
    Loved this post! I’ve been throughly enjoying Sam’s spare prose, but it’s nice to hear your voice again!
    Love, Leda


  3. deb92024 says:

    This post made me feel we were walking together through one of your favorite places as you gently shared what you love most about it. Thank you.


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