Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

My attempt at getting a particular photo at Fushimi Inari Shrine had failed, but there was still a lot of sightseeing to do that day and I quickly moved on to my next destination. I walked north for about 15 minutes and then entered the grounds of Tofukuji Temple, one of Kyoto’s major Zen temples. Tofukuji was founded in 1236 and much of the temple grounds are free to visit. The large Sanmon Gate at the southern end of the temple is 22m (72ft) tall and was built in 1425, making it the oldest Sanmon in Japan. Near the Sanmon Gate is the temple’s main hall, which is a reconstruction from 1917. Although you cannot step inside the main hall you can take a look through front gate and see the Buddhist artwork inside it.

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Along the southeast edge of the temple grounds are a couple smaller shrines that can be reached by climbing a set of stairs.

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

The main attraction of Tofukuji Temple is the Tsutenkyo Bridge, which straddles a valley called Sengokukan Canyon. This is one of the paid areas of the temple and visitors first pass through a garden area and then cross the valley itself to reach the other side.

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Paying for entrance onto Tsutenkyo Bridge also grants access to Kaisando Hall on the far side of the valley. Kaisando is the mausoleum of Tofukuji Temple’s first head priest and carefully sculpted gardens flank the pathway leading up to the main hall. When I visited Kaisando in 2019 the building adjacent to the main hall was covered over for restoration and I’m not sure when that work is estimated to be finished.

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

I then walked out onto Tsutenkyo Bridge. In the autumn this bridge gets a lot of visitors, with people flocking here to admire the sight of all the trees below the bridge changing colors. Many of the trees were starting to turn red and yellow when I was at Tofukuji but it looked like it would be another week or two before peak autumn colors arrived.

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

Japan Kyoto Tofukuji Temple

When I finished up my time on Tsutenkyo Bridge I exited Tofukuji Temple and walked for a minute over to the other bridge that crosses the valley. This one is called Gaun Bridge and is free to visit. The view from Gaun Bridge isn’t as good as the one you get on Tsutenkyo Bridge but it’s still nice, and the sight of Tsutenkyo Bridge peaking above the trees makes for an interesting photo.

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