7 Temples You Can Experience Zen Sitting Meditation in Kyoto

The ancient city of Kyoto which attracts tourists from all over the world.

Speaking of Kyoto sightseeing, visiting temples and shrines is popular, but do you know that you can experience Zen sitting meditation(Zazen) at temples?

“Zazen” allows you to look at yourself quietly and carefully.

Here are some recommended temples where you can experience Zen sitting meditation in Kyoto.

About Zen Sitting Meditation(Zazen)

What is Zen sitting meditation(Zazen)?

Zen means a person’s heart, and people practice Zen sitting meditation to face yourself and to rethink yourself.

Zen sitting meditation is a Buddhist practice method sitting in a correct posture and unites the spirit.

The effect of Zen sitting meditation is that if you concentrate on posture and breathing in a quiet environment, you will be able to relax by removing distracting thoughts.

And by focusing on breathing, you can increase your concentration.

It seems that you can gradually do it at first even if it is difficult.

Recommended Clothes When You Practice Zen Sitting Meditation

When you practice Zen sitting meditation, you keep sitting with your legs crossed for almost an hour.

So, relaxed pants are recommended, not tight pants.

Also, Zen sitting meditation is practiced barefoot.

Clothes that can be handled immediately such as socks are desirable.

How to Make Reservation

You can reserve on the website of each temples.

However, some of temples don’t have foreign language page.

And even if there was a English page, sometimes we cannot find a page for reservation.

If you couldn’t find page for reservation in your language, please ask hotel’s reception you stay.


Recently, I found some web site where you can make reservations.

Shokokuji Temple / Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City

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Shokokuji is famous for its ceiling painting of dragon.

Zen sitting meditation experience event called the “Imakai” is held in Shokokuji Temple, which anyone can participate.

The feature is that there are many participants because Shokokuji temple is famous.

You can get mysterious feeling that concentrating on Zen sitting meditation with a lot of tourists.


About 10 minutes on foot from Subway Karasuma Line “Imadegawa” Station

Event Date
2nd and 4th Sunday of every month
* The schedule may change depending on the month. 

Enkouji Temple / Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City

Enkoji temple is famous for autumn leaves.

And it is a temple where attractive Karesansui garden(a traditional Japanese dry garden) is in.

In Enkoji temple, Zen sitting meditation experience event is held every week from 6am.

Even if you are beginner, you will be taught carefully how to sit and breathe, so you don’t have to be nervous.

Speaking of Zen sitting meditation, being hit by a flat plate-shaped stick called “Keisaku” is famous.

It sounds a lot and it hurts, but it is indispensable for the Zen sitting meditation experience.

If you are interested in, why don’t try experiencing Zen sitting meditation when you go sightseeing the Enkouji Temple, which is located in Ichijoji Area.

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15 minute walk from Ichijouji Station.

Event Date
Every Sunday in the morning from 6am

Nanzenji Temple / Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City

Nanzenji Temple is also a temple where you can experience Zen sitting meditation, which gathers many tourist, especially in cherry blossom season.

Located on the hill of Kyoto city where you can overlook around the town, it is sure that you can experience Zen sitting meditation in the fresh air.

Nanzenji Temple is also known for prestigious Zen temple in Japan.

Also, Nanzeinji temple is famous for a hydrophobic bridge that brings water from Biwako(Lake Biwa) in Shiga Prefecture.

The bridge is made of red bricks, and is famous as a tourist attraction in Kyoto.

Why don’t you stroll around the ground of the temple after Zen sitting meditation?

Note that reservations are required for group.

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10 minutes on foot from Kageage station.

Event Date
2nd and 4th Sunday
* The schedule may change depending on the month

Myoshinji Temple / Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City

Myoshinji Temple is known that the site is huge.

There are nearly 60 buildings in the site, so it is probably hard to see all of the building.

Simple and less decorative appearance is a feature of Zen temple.

It may be a good idea to refresh your mind over a day with Zen sitting meditation and stroll around the ground of Myoshinji Temple.


6 minute walk from Hanazono Station on the JR Sagano Line.

Event Date
Every saturday
* there are holidays depending on the month. Please check HP for details.

Tenryuji Temple / Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City

Tenryuji Temple is a world cultural heritage.

The site is vast, and is famous for its mind blowing Unryu figure, a figure of doragon.

You can experience Zen sitting meditation even if you are a beginner, and reservation is not necessary.

Moreover, although usually Zen sitting meditation events are held early in the morning, the event in Tenryuji Temple begins from 9am.

Because the event begins relatively late, it is easier to participate even if the hotel you stay was far from Tenryuji Temple.

A vast garden where you can enjoy the landscape in each seasons.

Why do not you spend a quiet time with Zen sitting meditation?


Nearby Arashiyama Station on the Keifuku Railway.

Event Date
On every second Sunday
*there are holidays depending on the month. Please check HP for details.

Kenninji Temple / Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City

Kenninji Temple is the oldest Zen temple in Japan.

You will feel different goodness after Zen sitting meditation from just visiting for sightseeing.

It is the main headquarters of the Rinzai Sect Kenninji group, so there are many temples around it.

Anybody can participate Zen sitting meditation in Kenninji Temple, if you have a willing.

To make a reservation, you need to send email below.

Daihonzan Kenninji Temple, Faculty of Education



7 minutes on foot from Gion Shijo Station.

Event Date
On every second Sunday

Shorinji Temple / Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City

One of Tofuku-ji’s towers is Bishamondo Shorinji Temple.

Especially in the autumn season, compared to Tofuku-ji Temple, where many tourists visit, Shorinji Temple is relatively quiet, so it is good environment for Zen sitting meditation.

Zen sitting meditation experience takes about an hour.

In the meantime, concentrate your mind in one place and take a close look at yourself.

Even beginners can participate in the experience easily.

Let’s try at Zen sitting meditation with your easy-to-seat position.


8 minutes on foot from Tofukuji Station.

Event Date
On every second Sunday. Please check the itinerary on the website for details.

Try Zen Sitting Meditation(Zazen) in Kyoto

Zen sitting meditation experience usually finish in 1 hour, so it is easy to put it into your trip.

Also, spending time away from your daily life and facing yourself, should be a different travel.

Let’s try Zen sitting meditation experience.

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