Tofukuji temple (東福寺) is the head temple of the Tofukuji School of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. It was built in 1236 on the instructions of Kujo Michiie, the great statesman of the Kamakura period, who desired to build in Kyoto a temple complexes in Nara. Even its name, Tofukuji, is a combination of one chalacter from the names of each of these Nara temples.
Its original buildings were burned but were rebuilt in the 15th century according to the original plans. About this time it flourished as one of the Five Great Temples of Kyoto. Its many compounds and sub-temples survived the ravages of war and fire until the late Meiji period when the Butsuden (Buddha hall) were burned. However, it even now retains the magnificent scale characteristic of a medieval Zen temple.
The Sanmon gate, a National Treaure, is the oldest Zen main gate in Japan. The Zendo (meditation hall), Tosu (lavatory) and Yokushitsu (bathing room) are also survivals from the early Muromachi period (14th century). The Hondo (main hall) and the Hojo (hear priest’s quarters) are recent reconstructions. The valley up to the Kaisando, spanned by its three bridges, is famous for its maple leaves in autumn.
Address: 1 5-778 本町 Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0981, Japan (Google Maps)