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Exploring Kenninji’s Beauty (360˚ Panorama)
Attractions at Kyoto’s Oldest Zen Buddhist Temple

Somese Naoto (Photographer)[Profile]

Kenninji is the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Our 360˚ immersive panorama gives you an up-close look at the temple’s enormous ceiling painting of two dragons and its renowned Fūjin raijinzu screen. The panoramic camera angles go beyond what temple visitors can normally see, making the experience even more awe-inspiring.

Using the Immersive Panoramas

Kenninji, the oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, was founded in 1202 by the priest Yōsai, who is credited with bringing the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism to Japan. Even though the temple in Higashiyama Ward borders the lively Gion neighborhood, it remains a tranquil oasis visited by a steady stream of people interested in learning about Zen teachings.

The temple houses one of Japan’s national art treasures, a two-section gold-leaf folding screen from the seventeenth century, named Fūjin raijinzu (Wind and Thunder Gods). The dynamically composed screen, considered the masterpiece of the artist Tawaraya Sōtatsu, features bold use of empty space in the middle juxtaposed by the vigorous movements of the wind god and thunder god positioned on each side. It is located in a drawing room overlooking the temple’s celebrated garden, Chōontei (“the garden of the sound of waves”). Our 360˚ panorama transports you to Kenninji to savor the serenity of its Zen garden and draw inspiration from the divine power of the Fūjin raijinzu screen. (The screen on display at Kenninji is a replica of the original Fūjin raijinzu screen, now housed at the Kyoto National Museum; the panorama here shows the replica.)

Another popular Kenninji attraction is the ceiling painting Sōryūzu (Twin Dragons), created by Koizumi Junsaku to commemorate the 800-year anniversary of the temple. The work, which took the artist nearly two years to complete, overwhelms the viewer with its sheer size—stretching 15.8 meters in width and 11.4 meters in height.

Temple visitors have to tilt their heads to get a good view of the ceiling painting, but our immersive panorama lets you relax in your chair and take a leisurely look.

(Photographs by Somese Naoto with permission from Kenninji.)

  • [2011.11.07]

Photographer. Born in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1964. Graduated from the Department of Photography in the College of Art, Nihon University. Specializes in portrait photography. His portfolio includes work for numerous magazines as well as several photograph collections. Currently an enthusiast of 360° panorama photography.


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