The tinted maple leaves swirling in the air as they fall on the temple grounds overlooking the ancient capital city of Kyoto bring a hint of the harsh winter to follow. In the fall, the area along the Tetsugaku-no-michi (Philosopher's Path) down to Eikando Temple and on to the Keage district in Kyoto with its canal, is ablaze with the colors of autumn. In particular, Nanzen-ji Temple is especially well-known for its magnificent display of autumn foliage.
Located at the foot of a ridge of Higashiyama (Mt. Higashi) called Sanjuroku Mine, Nanzen-ji Temple is the main temple of the Rinzai-shu Nanzenji Buddhist Zen sect. The temple was founded in the Kamakura Period when the Emperor Kameyama (who later retired and took a Buddhist name) took residence in an Imperial villa built by his mother. The principle image worshiped at the temple is Shakyamuni-Butsu.
One of the prominent old temples in Kyoto, during the Muromachi Period the temple prospered as the highest ranked Zen temple in Japan. Permeated with a sense of history, this famous temple is especially gorgeous when the leaves of autumn color the grounds with their incomparable beauty.
On the temple grounds itself and nearby, you will find the historical structures Suirokaku and the Canal Lift (an inclined plane railway) which were part of what is believed to be the first civil engineering project in Japan, the Lake Biwa Canal (which was built to draw water from Lake Biwa to Kyoto). Along the road leading to the temple, there are a number of yudofu (boiled tofu, bean curd) shops thought to be inspired by Kanjindori (Buddhist Cuisine).