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Keishun-in Temple in Kyoto

A relaxing temple with a serene garden

Not far from Ryoan-ji and its famous stone garden in the western reaches of Kyoto, Keishun-in is one of the sub-temples of Myoshin-ji, a unique, beguiling complex of 46 Zen Buddhist temples. Founded in 1598, it's a very tranquil place, little visited by tourists, and you can enjoy its gardens in the peace for which they were intended.

There are distinct parts to the gardens: the Garden of Shojo (spotless and innocent) is a dry landscape garden with a well and dry waterfall; the Garden of Shii (distinctions) is home to Buddhist statues on two little hills; The Garden of Shinyo (suchness) is lavishly green, with maple trees, shrubbery and mosses; and the Garden of Wabi (the beauty of simplicity, poverty and incompleteness) is a landscaped tea garden.

This is a wonderful place to imagine the atmosphere of Kyoto as it must have been when the temple was founded. Stroll slowly through the gardens, then sit quietly in the tearoom, looking out over the greenery and artfully placed features, looking exactly as they did when monks, geisha and samurai visited, hundreds of years ago.

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