Located in the south eastern part of Kyoto, Tofuku-ji (東福寺) is the head temple of the Tofuku-ji branch of Rinzai sect, one of the three main branches of Japanese Zen Buddhism. It is one of Kyoto’s Five Great Zen Temples, or Kyoto Gozan (京都五山). The first temple was built in the year 1256.
Amongst its many wooden temples and pagodas, the Tofuku-ji Sammon, or the main gate of Tofuku-ji, was built in the year 1425. With height reaching 22m, it is built in the style of a two stories gate (二重門) with 5 bays and 3 entrances (五間三戸). It is the oldest standing of Sammon which was built in such style in Japan, and a designated national treasure. The name Sammon is short for Sangedatsumon (三解脱門), which means an enlightenment gate to Nirvana.
To both sides of the gate are small detached structures called Sanrou (山廊), and these structures house the stairways that lead up to the second story of the Sammon. The second story, however, is opened to the public only during certain times a year. So please plan ahead if you would like to see the inside of the Sammon!
Even though Suikoushya International Craft School is now up and running in France, our Kyoto workshop will still continue to operate and we want to welcome you when you’re in Kyoto!
Here in Kyoto you can explore the many different wooden architectural treasures of Japan!