Tenryu-ji Temple and Its Garden of a Hundred Flowers - Jim Wageman

On our previous stay in Kyoto we had visited Arashiyama on the city’s western outskirts and the famous bamboo forest there. Tenryu-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple, lies adjacent to the forest. Though the current temple was established in 1339, the area’s historical connections with Zen date back as far as the 9th century, when Japan’s first Zen temple was founded on the same site. Ever since Tenryu-ji’s consecration in 1345, it has been designated first among Kyoto’s five major Zen temples. The focus of our visit, however, was not on the temple’s historical past or its sizable complex of buildings but rather on its gardens, especially Hyakka’en, the so-called Garden of a Hundred Flowers, whose flowers on the day of our visit—on trees, bushes, and other plants—seemed almost to number in the millions.