Southern Higashiyama

Founded in 1202 by the monk Eisai, Kennin-ji is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. It is an island of peace and calm on the border of the boisterous Gion nightlife district and it makes a fine counterpoint to the worldly pleasures of that area. The highlight at Kennin-ji is the fine and expansive kare-sansui (dry landscape) garden. The painting of the twin dragons on the roof of the Hōdō hall is also fantastic.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Southern Higashiyama attractions

1. Ebisu-jinja

0.08 MILES

This small shrine near Kennin-ji honours Ebisu, the god of prosperity. Naturally, it's a popular spot with local businesspeople. The Tōka Ebisu festival…

2. Yasui Konpira-gū

0.15 MILES

This interesting little Shintō shrine on the edge of Gion contains one of the most peculiar objects we've encountered anywhere in Japan: the enkiri…

3. Rokuharamitsu-ji

0.24 MILES

An important Buddhist pilgrimage stop, this temple was founded in 963 by Kūya Shōnin, who carved an image of an 11-headed Kannon and installed it in the…

4. Entoku-in

0.37 MILES

This subtemple of Kōdai-ji has a lovely Zen garden and is a pleasant retreat from the busy touristy surrounds. You can buy a combo ticket with Kōdai-ji…

5. Yasaka-jinja

0.37 MILES

This colourful and spacious shrine is considered the guardian shrine of the Gion entertainment district. It's a bustling place that is well worth a visit…

6. Ponto-chō

0.42 MILES

There are few streets in Asia that rival this narrow pedestrian-only walkway for atmosphere. Not much to look at by day, the street comes alive at night,…

7. Kōdai-ji

0.45 MILES

This exquisite temple was founded in 1605 by Kita-no-Mandokoro in memory of her late husband, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The extensive grounds include gardens…

8. Ninen-zaka & Sannen-zaka Area

0.46 MILES

Just downhill from and slightly to the north of Kiyomizu-dera, you will find one of Kyoto’s loveliest restored neighbourhoods, the Ninen-zaka–Sannen-zaka…