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  • Founded: 1339, Ashikaga Takauji
  • Other Names: 霊亀山 (Reiki-zan), 天龍資聖禅寺 (Tenryuu shiseizenji)
  • Japanese: 天龍寺 (Tenryuu-ji)

Tenryû-ji (lit. Heavenly Dragon Temple), located in the Arashiyama neighborhood of Kyoto, is the head temple of the Tenryû-ji branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.[1]

The temple was founded in 1339 by Ashikaga Takauji, who established it in honor of Emperor Go-Daigo. Musô Soseki served as the first chief priest of the temple. Soseki is said to have designed the temple's garden, which has been nationally designated a scenic and historical site. The temple also houses a number of Important Cultural Properties, including a portrait of Soseki.

The temple was originally called Ryakuô Shisei-zenji, after the Ryakuô era in which it was founded; after Takauji's younger brother Ashikaga Tadayoshi had a dream of a golden dragon, the temple was renamed Tenryû Shisei-zenji. Construction was funded chiefly by a combination of donations, and income from a set of trading ships known as the Tenryûji-sen ("Tenryû-ji ships"), through which the temple became quite wealthy.

Over the centuries, the temple suffered damage from fire, and was rebuilt, on numerous occasions. Most of the buildings extant today date to the Meiji period, or are more recent.


  • Plaques on-site.
  1. As part of the group Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)."