Lori and I nearly missed this awe-inspiring destination on our whirlwind bicycle tour of Kyoto’s most famed historical shrines and temples. From the road Tofukuji Temple is hard to spot if you’re not looking for it because the grounds are fairly extensive.
A big plus, however, was that everything we saw was free. There is an admission fee of 400 yen for the Tsutenkyo Bridge, however the real attraction is the view of this bridge through the multitude of Maple trees which seen from the lower covered bridge next to the parking area. In the afternoon this covered bridge is a prime opportunity not only for shots of the renowned view, but also provides excellent side-lighting for some impromptu portraits.
In the center of the grounds is the impressive Sanmon Gate. Built in 1425, at 22 meters tall, it is the largest Zen gate in the world. From a photographic standpoint, this structure has no bad angles. My first inclination was to highlight the gate’s symmetry, however I ended up liking the sense of grandeur captured in my last minute snap (the lead image of this post) at a 3/4 angle zoomed all the way out.
Although Tofukuji Temple doesn’t make my ultimate What to See in Kyoto in 5 Hours, it is well worth a visit with your camera if you have an extra 45 minutes.