Tenryuji is a big deal in Arashiyama, and Kyoto as a whole—it is the top Zen temple (out of 5), a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the head of its own school of Buddhism in the Rinzai sect. Although the buildings have been lost to fire and disasters since it was built in 1339, the gardens have survived and are a beautiful example of Zen design.

The garden was designed by the renowned landscaper Muso Soseki and uses the forested mountains as a backdrop for the design.