Gardens in Kyoto

Top Gardens in Kyoto, Japan

Gardens in Kyoto

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What travelers are saying

  • Kimitaka S
    Taichung, Taiwan11,958 contributions
    Katsura Imperial Villa is one of must-sees in Kyoto. To visit the villa, you should either make a reservation in advance, or go directly to the entrance early in the morning. Only the limited number of people can be admitted for each tour. From 8:40 a ticket is distributed, and after that you can choose the visiting time accordingly. The buildings in the garden are inaccessible. The garden, which is divided into different areas, is beautiful and well calculated.
    Written December 26, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • jarmwr40
    British Columbia, Canada3,125 contributions
    came to beloved kyoto to visit our wonderful friend after hiking the kumano kodo trail.
    our 6th visit to japan, our third exploration of kyoto.
    lucky us to have our japanese friend who was raised in kyoto to be our guide of her favourite temples.
    this was the first temple we toured, had been here before, it is simply stunning in size.
    dark, stately, quiet, gentle, subdued.
    built in 1291 and destroyed by fire x 3 and last rebuilt in 1597.
    a large complex.
    the schoolchildren in their uniforms traipsing home added to the atmosphere.
    maples just starting to turn colors.
    this zen buddhist temple is known for its sanmon gate and rock gardens of the hojo, the abbots quarters.
    the aqueduct is so unique.
    opposite the marvellous westin miyako and near the philosophers walk.
    i was so fortunate to have a return visit here, most likely our last trip to japan.
    we were here in oct. 2019 and once covid hit its taken me this long to share our experiences.
    a must see of the many, many temples in wonderful kyoto.
    Written February 11, 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Jonathan Sexton
    Sneads Ferry, NC284 contributions
    This was my wife’s favorite stop on the western attractions in Kyoto. She really enjoyed the tea house and drinking some authentic matcha. The views are great as well!
    Written September 10, 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Emma C
    Oxford, UK2,270 contributions
    I have wanted to come here every time I've visited Kyoto (7 times) but had never made it before. I was looking for somewhere less crowded and to spend some time in nature. That is exactly what I got. I especially liked the Japanese garden area, the bonsai section and just the general feel of the place. I will definitely be back!

    Easily reached by metro or bus and really cheap to enter...you can't go wrong.
    Written January 13, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • John W
    454 contributions
    The villa is in three widely separated sections connected by gravel paths. These paths are well graded and easy but the villa gardens contain many steps. The whole tour takes a good hour. An audio device (free) provides a commentary in one of five languages, including English. Though the tour is free, restriction of numbers by the Imperial Household Agency, and lately coronavirus, means that the tour is uncrowded and unhurried, though the minder bringing up the rear is fond of his two-word English vocabulary: Catch up.
    The villas are set among terraced fields that have been bought up to preserve the rural setting. The buildings have a classic simplicity, and the gardens range from carefully arranged wilderness to the tame landscape surrounding the pond below the uppermost tea house. A leisurely stop at this tea house gives opportunity to view the parkland below and the borrowed scenery: the city beyond and the northern hills stretching into the distance.
    Written March 15, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Emma C
    Oxford, UK2,270 contributions
    I always find a visit to Daitoku-ji refreshing and a peaceful antidote to the crowds of most other places in Kyoto. I've been a few times and never really see anyone else around. For me it is a wall city filled with long paths and trees with a real sense of zen about it. It was quite late in the day when I rocked up on this occasion so had the place to myself, but most of the sub temples were closed. Never mind, it was still s lovely experience .
    Written January 12, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Wanderlust_curacao
    Rotterdam, The Netherlands188 contributions
    There aren't many places where you can just walk peacefully. This is definitely one of the places I recommend. It was one of the places that still had some cherry blossoms in Kyoto during that time and it was definitely worth it. I went in the afternoon and there were about 5 people there, including me. The park was small but beautiful.
    Written May 26, 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • hfot2 🌸🍁🌸
    Vermont6,742 contributions
    We returned to Shosei-en in 2019 in hopes of seeing the sakura in better bloom than when we visited previously. It was a great idea and good timing, thanks in part to the advice of the Kyoto TIC.

    This is a lovely garden overlooked by many. With sakura at peak there were more visitors than on our previous visit, but hardly enough to make it seem crowded.

    If you catch the garden at the right time, it is splendid.

    Be sure to get - and read - the lovely book you are offered free at the entrance gate. We asked the ticket sales people to hold our book for us until we left so we didn’t have to carry it with us as we strolled and photographed. They did, but they cautioned that it might not be there when we returned to pick it up. Of course, it was waiting for us behind the desk.
    Written February 7, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Erkki N
    Finland872 contributions
    Right next to Nanzen-ji San-mon gate the Tenju-an (a subtemple of Nanzen-ji) has a beautiful garden with white gravel field viewed from temple platform and also a stroll garden. The view from temple is characterized by a path of diagonally placed square stepping stones and moss. Japanese maples behind the field were about to enter the autumn colour season when I visited and had individual, slightly off-green hues making a beautiful background. The stroll garden is much like a wild forest – its route goes around a beautiful pond and you get also to walk over it using round stepping stones.
    Written August 9, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Erkki N
    Finland872 contributions
    The garden of Shisen-do is simply out of this world. I would rank it without hesitation to the top 5 of Kyoto gardens: not only has it an impeccable composition, it is also fundamentally different from the mainstream of karesansui gardens. This is not a rock garden you view from a wooden platform (well, you can do that, too), but a stroll garden you are welcome to walk around in (wearing blue slippers provided for this purpose).

    The garden design has a Chinese influence to it. The initial view from the temple resembles other zen gardens, but the field next to it is not raked gravel, but brushed sand. The stroll into the garden provides you a view after another, opening ever new perspectives to many parts of the garden, all harmonious and beautiful. In addition to the usual carps, this garden had magnificent butterflies and birds singing making it feel like a part of the surrounding nature.

    I visited in mid-October, when the Japanese maples had just got a hint of the first autumn color. One hour before the closing time I had the garden all to myself. I took my time, sat under the pergola, breathed in the peace floating all over the place and forgot about the world waiting outside - and took a ton of photos before I left.

    Shisen-do is a bit away from many more popular attractions, but absolutely worth the effort of getting there. You can take the Eizan electric railway and walk from Ichijoji station. The entrance is small and modest, easy to miss if you are looking for a big fancy gate. If you are in Kyoto for its gardens, this one is truly a must, rivalled only by Murin-an and Obai-in of Daitokuji. I can recommend my late visiting hour for extra serenity, but I have read the temple can also be busy when the season is right.
    Written August 8, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Pamela A O
    Seattle677 contributions
    We were planning to go to the Kyoto Botanical Garden, which is right next door, but the garden was closed due to an electrical problem, so we came here instead. This is an outdoor park, made of mostly concrete and lots and lots of falling water and pools. On some of the concrete walls are painted large and quite well done reproductions of some of the great art pieces of the world by artists such as Michelangelo, van Gogh, Renoir, etc.I particularly enjoyed the reproductions of Chinese screens because you can get right up close to these and see all the details that you really can't see well at all when looking at the original in a regular museum. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this place.
    Written November 28, 2018
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Erkki N
    Finland872 contributions
    Taizo-in is one of the highly rated Kyoto Gardens and righlty so. Taizo-in is one of the many subtemples of Myoshin-ji and easily found close to the south entrance to the complex. The Myoshin-ji compound resembles structurally that of the perhaps more famous Daitoku-ji, both are large areas with stone-paved streets and wider squares between temple halls and subtemples, many of which are not open to public.

    Taizo-in provides many areas of beauty and has some rare characteristic features: the entrance to the garden area is dominated by a huge cherry tree that must be quite a sight at the cherry blossom season. Unfortunately I visited in October, missing this glory. The raked gravel fields on two sides of the entrance are of different color: the one on the right is of dark ravel rather than the more usual white one. The grooves are wide and deep, the display more dramatic than that of an average karesansui.

    Deeper in the garden there is a pond and a stream flowing to it. Trees, bushes, water, form a harmonious setting, best viewed from the pergola at the deepest end of the garden. There is also a separate pavilion for enjoying green tea. One of the most beautiful sights during my Kyoto garden tour this time! I almost missed the rock garden behind the temple hall, but it can be seen from the far end of the area available for visitors and is very nice, more of a mainstream karesansui display.
    Written August 9, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Erkki N
    Finland872 contributions
    Konchi-in is a temple (a subtemple of Nanzen-ji) with a stroll garden and the “Crane and Turtle Garden”, a karesansui garden viewed from temple balcony. Toshugu shrine on temple grounds has a history connecting to the Tokugawa shogun family. There is lots of moss clad beauty to see here, although to me this garden did not appeal quite as much as some others nearby (Nanzen-ji main temple or Tenju-an). The karesansui here uses the idea of borrowed landscape - there is a display of stones behind teh field of gravel and behind them rise the trees creating nice depth to the picture.
    Written August 9, 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • petertaylor57
    Auckland Central, New Zealand305 contributions
    Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the most famous Shoguns used this place as one of his residences, and you can see why. Beauty all around. Far enough from the Imperial Palace not to be influenced by the courtiers, and near enough to come down on the Emperor if he did something Hideyoshi didn't like. The garden is a masterpiece well worth going to see and just sit and drink in the atmosphere. Not so crowded as other places, the only negative for me were the 'No Photography' signs for the garden itself. Otherwise, I'd say 5 star.
    Written June 13, 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
  • Archerscruff
    Havelock North, New Zealand37 contributions
    The best part of visiting this garden is the steep cable car and ropeway (gondola) you take to get there. The garden itself is exquisite with a lovely gift shop on site. Stunning views on a clear day. Quite pricy though - take your own snacks to save yourself a hit to the wallet.
    Written July 1, 2016
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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