Tofuku-ji Temple Complex Gardens
The Tofuku-ji temple complex in the south eastern part of Kyoto has some 25 surviving temples a number of which are open to the public and some have gardens. The complex is accessed via a covered bridge over a deep ravine and acer filled valley with spectacular colour. The gardens include the fabulousZen garden of Reiun-in and those of Sesshu-ji and Tentoku-in. The Tofuku-ji temple has four gardens facing each point of the compass. The south facing garden is a large dry landscape garden with splendid entrance gate and crane rock arrangement set in white gravel. This is roughly raked to represent stormy seas. The northern garden has square granite sets in a regular pattern set in lush moss. The western garden has a similar checkerboard pattern of raked white gravel amidst azaleas
The Reiun-in sub temple was built in 1390 but the garden was reconstructed as recently as 1970 along the lines of an earlier Edo period garden. On entry to the garden you are met with this incredible picture (left), which pans into the view on the right. These sculptured pines have been trained over many years and are often much older than they first appear.
The second garden continues round the corner of the temple and has some more modern influences with coloured gravel and decorative edging.
The Sesshu-ji temple was built in 1321 and has two gardens. The southern garden has white gravel in the foreground and moss beyond which there are two islands representing the tortoise and the crane. The wonderful window provides a classic frame to the rear garden.
There is a small tea garden with wonderful lantern and classic mossy basin arrangement with bamboo gate, yotsume-gaki fence and stepping stone path.
The Tentoku-in temple garden is a later (Edo period) moss covered dry landscape garden with rocks and a few azaleas. This is another garden with campanulas. The picture shows an attractive bell shaped window with side shoji panels providing a framed view of the garden.