Sanzenin is located in Ohara which is in the northern part of Kyoto. Beautiful throughout the year, it is especially beautiful when surrounded by the fall foliage. You may be hesitant to visit with children because it is far from the city center, but here are a few reasons why you might want to consider visiting by bus or taxi.
What is Sanzen-in Temple in Kyoto?
Sanzen-in Temple began in the Enryoku Era (782 to 806), when the teaching professor Saicho set it up as a hermitage when he founded Enryaku-ji Temple on Mount Hiei in Shiga Prefecture. Since the late Heian period, it was used as a place of residence for the Imperial Family. In 1871 (Meiji 4), it was called Sanzenin, and after the Meiji Restoration, moved to its current location. As Sanzen-in Temple, it has a long history of 1200 years. Upon visiting the temple you will be surrounded by history and Sanzen-in Temple is a place not of strictness, but a place to enjoy the various seasons and ignite children’s sense of adventure.
Reason 1: Landscape of the Road
Gotenmon, the gateway to Sanzen-in Temple, is surrounded by a high stone wall made of natural stones. As you pass through Gotenmon, vast grounds are spread out in front of you including a grassy area with buildings which feel like they have a rich history. Among the many buildings, “Senjo Kyakuraku-in“, which is the source of the history of Sanzen-in, is not a really gorgeous building, but rather a simple mido (hall), and is designated as an Important Cultural Property. The buildings of Sanzen-in are basically old and not glittering, but I would like children to experience the old buildings and the space woven by nature! For adults it is sure to be a place of healing.
Reason 2: The spectacular Japanese garden and surrounding nature
If you want to enjoy the Japanese garden, go to the Shuhekien. It is a spectacular Japanese garden even when seen from the eyes of Japanese people. The garden is wonderful in all seasons, but be sure to visit it once during the fall foliage. Carpets of fallen red leaves spread on the green moss, and the sight heals the heart. The slightly withered leaves, when walking on them, male a rustling sound. Children are delighted with the feeling of picking up fallen leaves or stepping on fallen leaves with their feet. You can enjoy this Japanese garden with your eyes, ears, heart, and whole body.
For more on spots to see fall foliage, see
Reason 3: Warabe Jizo
Speaking of Sanzen-in, the famous Warabe Jizo is famous. Many people visit Sanzen-in Temple to meet this children’s Jizo. Warabe Jizo is a very cute Jizo that stands quietly beside Benten Ikewaki on the south side of Ogaku Gokurakuin. He / she heals by showing various expressions, such as two cuddling, lying down, and wearing a moss hat. It would be fun to look for Jizo and try to imitate facial expressions with your children.
Reason 4: Stamp Rally
There are some fun spots for children in Sanzen-in Temple. Adults receive a pamphlet when they enter, but children can get a stamp rally card called “Sennin-in Buddha Tour”. This is where the adventure begins. The Buddha’s explanation is also included on the card, so you can study and find stamps while you are walking around the temple grounds. You can also get special souvenirs by collecting stamps! It could be a big adventure for parents and children.
Reason 5: Dedication of Kannon Statues
Kannon-do is located at the back of Sanzen-in Temple. Next to it are hundreds of small Kannon statues. These statues can be dedicated to anyone. When you make a monetary offering, a plate with your name will be placed under Kannon and that Kannon will be enshrined. Visit Sanzen-in Temple to pray for the healthy growth of your child as well as the bonds of your family. This will definitely be a special memory of your trip!
A day of fun at Sanzen-in Temple
As you can see, there are a lot of fun things for children to enjoy at Sanzen-in Temple. There are other temples in the area like Jakko-in Temple and Hosen-in Temple as well as plenty of tea shops and other shops selling things like souvenirs or a Kyoto favorite, Japanese pickles. As Sanzen-in Temple is located in a mountain area, there are many steps and it may be difficult to visit with a smaller child or baby. Don’t let that stop you from going though! You can leave childcare up to Kyoto with Kids Babysitting and let us take care of your little one while you enjoy a day out. For information on Kyoto with Kids Babysitting, see
Sanzen-in Temple Access
- From JR Kyoto Station take bus 17 and get off at Ohara. From there it is a 10 minute walk
- From subway station Kokusai Kaikan take bus 19 and get off at Ohara, walk 10 minutes.
- From Keihan Demachiyanagi Station take bus 17 to Ohara, walk 10 minutes
Kyoto City Sakyo Ward Ohara Raigoin-cho 540
9:00am to 5:00pm (Nov: 8:30am to 5:00pm, Dec-Feb: 9:00am to 4:30pm)