Kennin-ji (Oldest Zen Temple)

Kennin-ji, on the east side of Kyōto, and not too far from Kiyomizu-dera, is one of the “Five Great Zen Temples” and also thought to be the oldest Zen temple in the city, dating back to 1202.

It is famous for the highly ornate style of its buildings and for its large number of artworks. Perhaps the most widely recognized of these is the gold leaf screen with paintings of the Shinto gods Raijin and Fujin.

The grounds also contain a lovely Zen garden, a tea house build by the famous 16th century Tea Master, Sen-no-Rikyu and the Imperial Messenger Gate which was built in the 14th century and still has visible arrow marks when it was damaged in one of the many battles fought in Kyōto throughout its history.