Last month I spent a couple of days exploring the Zen gardens of the Daitoku-ji Temple complex, and the results are now up on Chris Rowthorn’s Inside Kyoto website.
Daitoku-ji was originally built as a small Zen temple in 1319. Like many historical sites in Kyoto, it was repeatedly destroyed by war and fire before being rebuilt on a grander scale by Zen master Ikkyu Sojun in the late 15th century. The temple’s political importance was sealed in 1582 when the great warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi held a funeral ceremony here for his predecessor Oda Nobunaga. Over time, political patronage and the money of a rich merchant class, led to a great flowering of the Japanese aesthetic here, expressed through architecture, painting, calligraphy, tea ceremony and of course those famous Zen gardens. All of this means that for you the visitor, there’s a whole lot of beautiful things for you to look at. LINK
In addition to the temples and gardens in this article, you can also read about ancient sweet shops, guardian shrines, a hot spring bath, a cafe in a renovated bath house, Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, the grave of the world’s first novelist and a unique savory relish called Daitoku-ji natto!
Read more here: http://www.insidekyoto.com/exploring-daitoku-ji