Daitoku-ji is the main temple of the complex of temples in the northern part of Kyoto. They belong to the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism. It is one of the largest compound of Zen Buddhist temples in Kyoto with almost two dozen sub-temples. Founded in 1319, it suffered severe damages during the civil war (Oning War in 1467-1477) like most other buildings in Kyoto. In the 16th century the compound of Daitoku-ji became an important cultural center in Kyoto. Thanks to Sen no Rikyu, to the tea houses he built and his “Tea Ceremony” school and its esthetics, he attracted the wealthy and powerful like Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. This made it possible to rebuild the compound largely destroyed by the civil war and to establish the art of the “Tea Ceremony” for centuries to come.
Three dry gardens of Daitoku-ji were created after the reconstruction of the main building in 1636. The south garden consists of a large flat field of raked gravel. In the right corner of the garden is an island of two rocks surrounded with moss. In front of the main hall are two sand cones and at the south-east corner are two vertical stones representing a dry waterfall.
Some of the sub-temples and their exquisite gardens are open to the public.