mountain’s red leaves
the setting sun returns
to the sky


Tenryu-ji was built by shogun Ashikaga Takauji about 1339.

The priest Muso Kokushi, designer of the moss garden at Saiho-ji and regarded as one of Japan’s great garden designers and religious figures, planned the garden.

The first construction on the site was a villa of a prince and dates to the Heian period. The estate then served as the residence of Emperor Gosaga beginning in 1270.

The Heian style pond incorporated Chinese features that were popular at the time. The principal feature of the garden is a grouping of seven rocks positioned near the shore at the rear of the pond. The reflection of the rocks in the water heightens their upright stance.

Tenryu-ji was one of the first gardens, and the oldest still in existence, to use “borrowed scenery” (shakkei). Borrowed scenery incorporates distant landscape elements into the design. Here, two mountains, Arashiyama and Kameyama, appear as part of this garden.

Even in the height of the fall season, I found that if I arrived at six or seven in the morning, there were few people. I could thoroughly enjoy the experiences to be had here.