Sanzenin Temple (三千院) in Ohara

Sanzenin Temple was originally built by Saicho during the Enryaku era (782-806) in the Toto Minamidani (東塔南谷) on Mt. Hiei. Since the late Heian period, the temple has been a monzeki, with the prince and imperial family serving as abbots.

The location of the temple has moved several times over time, from within Hieizan to Omi Sakamoto and then to Kyoto, due to fires and the Onin War. The name of the temple also changed. After the Meiji Restoration, the temple moved to its current location in Ohara. And since 1872, it has been Sanzenin.

Temple’s official WEB site

Sanzenin gate
Entrance gate
Sanzenin main hall
Main hall

Sanzenin’s Oujo Gokurakuin hall is a Heian-period building and an important cultural property.

Sanzenin Ojo Gokurakuin
Ojo Gokurakuin

Inside the temple hall there are three statues of Amida, which are national treasures. These Buddhist statues are a must-see. Photography is not allowed, so photos from the temple’s brochure is posted.

Amida Sanzon
From temple’s pamphlet

On the ceiling, celestial maidens dance and bodhisattvas stand. This is a representation of the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. Over time, however, the paintings fade and cannot be seen clearly. There is a reproduction in a small museum.

A fantastic moss garden surrounds the Oujo Gokurakuin Temple. This place is especially famous for its autumn foliage and snowy scenery, but you can enjoy it year-round.

Mossy garden
Mossy garden

Model courses to visit Sanzenin

Sanzenin is one of Kyoto Gokashitsu Monzeki temples. Gokashitsu Monzeki temples are prestigious temples among Tendai Sect temples.

Walking tour of Ohara is a good one-day program. You can visit temples in seclusion.

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