Nanzenji was first built as an imperial villa in 1264, and became a temple
in 1291. Its main building, the Seiryo-den, is famous for a beautiful
rock garden and sliding doors (fusuma), which are decorated by paintings
of the Kano School. The temple's large entrance gate, completed in 1628,
is called Sanmon. Several subtemples and a water aqueduct, which is part
of the Lake Biwa Canal dating from 1890, can be found in the vicinity
of Nanzenji's main buildings. Among the subtemples open to the public
are Nanzenin, directly behind the water aqueduct, whose small but pretty
garden is particularly spectacular with autumn leaves (usually best in
the second half of November), and the scarcely visited Konchiin, standing
southwest of the Sanmon gate.
Nanzenji can be reached by bus number 5 from Kyoto Station. Alternatively,
take the subway Tozai Line to Keage Station (transfer from Karasuma Line
at Karasuma Oike Station) from where the temple can be reached in a 10
minute walk. Nanzenji is also a good starting or end point for a walk
along the Path of Philosophy to/from Ginkakuji.