Originally the retirement villa of emperor Kameyama (ruled 1259-1274, d. 1305), Nanzenji was converted into a Zen temple in 1291. By 1380 it was ranked first among all Zen temples in Japan. The original temple was destroyed during the Onin War (civil war, 1467-1477); its present buildings date from around 1600.
Nanzenji's Sanmon, a large gatehouse, is shown here. Sanmon literally means "three gates," a reference to the Buddhist triratna. A variety of statues and paintings are displayed on the second floor of the two-story building.