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Tofukuji (, Tōfukuji) is a large Zen temple in southeastern Kyoto, which is particularly famous for its spectacular autumn colors. The temple was founded in 1236 by the powerful Fujiwara clan. Its name is a combination of the names of two great temples in Nara that were also associated with the Fujiwara, Todaiji Temple and Kofukuji Temple. Tofukuji has been one of the principal Zen temples in Kyoto and is the head temple of its own school within the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism.

In autumn, people come from all over Japan to see Tofukuji's autumn colors. The most popular view is of the Tsutenkyo Bridge, which spans a valley of lush maple trees. The view from the bridge is equally spectacular, and the 100 meter long, covered walkway becomes extremely crowded when the colors reach their peak, usually around mid to late November.

Several parts of Tofukuji's temple grounds are free to enter, including the area around some of its largest and most impressive buildings. The 22 meter tall Sanmon Gate is the oldest Zen gate of its kind, dating back to 1425. Behind the gate is the Hondo (main hall), which is even larger but is a recent reconstruction from 1934.

Surrounding these massive structures are a few temple buildings that date back to the early Muromachi Period (1333-1573) and are rare examples of surviving Zen architecture from that era, including the meditation hall (zendo), belfry (shoro), bath (yokushitsu) and lavatory (tosu).

The Hojo, the head priest's former living quarters, is one of Tofukuji's two paid areas. Rock gardens were often built alongside hojo buildings, but the gardens at Tofukuji's Hojo are unique for surrounding the building on all sides. Each garden has a different character, employing pebbles, large rocks, moss, trees and checkered patterns. The Hojo was most recently reconstructed in 1890, and the gardens are relatively modern creations from the late 1930s.

The other paid area consists of the above mentioned Tsutenkyo Bridge and Kaisando Hall, which serves as the mausoleum of the temple's first head priest. The stone path in front of the Kaisando is flanked by contrasting gardens on both sides, a dry rock garden on the left and a lush pond garden on the right. The Kaisando and its gardens were last reconstructed during the Edo Period (1603-1868).

Getting there and around

Tofukuji is a ten minute walk from Tofukuji Station on the JR Nara Line (2 minutes, 150 yen from Kyoto Station) and the Keihan Main Line. Alternatively, the temple is a ten minute walk from Tofukuji bus stop (15 minutes, 230 yen from Kyoto Station by Kyoto City Bus 208).

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Hotels around Kyoto

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    • Ryokan Mugen (Adult Only)
      Luxury
      Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Mitsuki Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      Offering a garden and quiet street view, Mitsuki Kyoto is set in Kyoto, 1.8 km from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall and 2.1 km from Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property features garden and inner courtyard views, and is 1.1 km from Nijo Castle. The property is 1.4 km from the city centre and 600 metres from Kyoto International Manga Museum. Featuring a private bathroom, units at the ryokan also provide guests with free WiFi. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at this 2-star ryokan. Heian Shrine is 2.3 km from the ryokan, while Samurai Kembu Kyoto is 2.4 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 46 km from Mitsuki Kyoto.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesf bus ride away.
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    • Ryokan Tori
      Mid-range
      Ryokan Tori is located in Kyoto, 2 km from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The property is around 2.3 km from Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property is 3.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple and 3.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. All guest rooms in the ryokan are fitted with a kettle. Each room has a shared bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also offer a garden view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at tori can enjoy an Asian breakfast. Heian Shrine is 5 km from the accommodation. Itami Airport is 50 km from the property.
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    • Kyonoyado Gekkoan
      Luxury
      Set in the Nakagyo Ward district in Kyoto, Kyonoyado Gekkoan offers an equipped accommodation with an balcony and free WiFi. The property is 1.1 km from Nijo Castle. This holiday home comes with a kitchenette with a microwave and a toaster, a flat-screen TV, a seating area and a bathroom with a bath. A vegetarian or continental breakfast is available daily at the property. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.1 km from the holiday home. Osaka Itami Airport is 37 km from the property.
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    • Guesthouse Engawa
      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Gallery Nozawa Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Gallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.
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    • Yado Kiramachi
      Luxury
      Yado Kiramachi offers accommodation set 600 metres from the centre of Kyoto and provides a garden and a terrace. The air-conditioned accommodation is 600 metres from Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The ryokan features family rooms. Certain units in the ryokan have private entrance and are equipped with desk and wardrobe. With a private bathroom, units at the ryokan also have free WiFi, while selected rooms will provide you with a balcony. At the ryokan, some units are soundproof. A bar can be found on-site. Kyoto International Manga Museum is 1.3 km from the ryokan, while Gion Shijo Station is 1.6 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Yado Kiramachi.
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    • Guesthouse HANA Nishijin
      Mid-range
      Guesthouse HANA Kyoto is located in Kyoto, 300 metres from Kitano Tenmangu and 1.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple. A simple complimentary breakfast service is provided for guests. Bathroom facilities are shared. Guesthouse HANA Kyoto features free WiFi throughout the property. There is a shared kitchen and a common area with a TV at the property. Nijo Castle is 2.1 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto, while Imperial Palace is 2.3 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from Guesthouse HANA Kyoto.
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    • Hotel Muso
      Mid-range
      Well located in Kyoto, Hotel Muso provides 3-star accommodation close to Gion Shijo Station and Kyoto Shigaku Kaikan Conference Hall. The property is around 1.8 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto, 2 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum and 2.3 km from Kyoto Station. Providing free WiFi throughout the property, the non-smoking hotel features a hot tub. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a coffee machine, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. Rooms come with a kettle, while selected rooms come with a kitchen with a microwave, a minibar and a stovetop. At Hotel Muso each room has bed linen and towels. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Sanjusangen-do Temple, Samurai Kembu Kyoto and Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 45 km from Hotel Muso.
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Experiences around Kyoto

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