The Tenryu-ji Cloud Dragon Painting

The Cloud Dragon on the ceiling of Tenryu-ji's Hatto was painted in 1997 by the renowned nihonga artist Kayama Matazo (1927-2004), as one of the projects commemorating the 650th anniversary of the death of Tenryu-ji's founder, Muso Kokushi.

The first step in the project was to cover the Hatto's 12.6 x 10.6-meter ceiling with 159 cypress planks, each 3 centimeters thick. These were lacquered, after which a layer of kaolin plaster was applied in a circle nine meters wide. This served as a base for the painting. The Cloud Dragon is rendered in the happo nirami style, in which the dragon appears to be looking directly at the viewer from wherever it is seen in the Hatto.

The present Cloud Dragon replaces an earlier one painted by the Japanese artist Suzuki Shonen at the time the Hatto was moved to its present location in the early Meiji period. By the 1990s this painting had deteriorated to the point that it could not be restored, so the new one was commissioned. A portion of Suzuki's dragon has been preserved, however, and is publicly displayed in the Daihojo every February.

The Tenryu-ji Cloud Dragon Painting The Tenryu-ji Cloud Dragon Painting

When to See the Cloud Dragon

Exhibition Days The Cloud Dragon may be viewed on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
• During special exhibition periods in the spring, summer, and fall it is on exhibit every day
• The painting is not on exhibit on occasions when temple ceremonies are being held.
  —The Hatto (where the Cloud Dragon is located) is closed to the public on December 31th 2024 to January 2th 2025.

Specia exhibition:

  ・March 2th to July 17th, 2024

  ・August 10th to 18th, 2024

  ・September 7th to December 1th, 2024
Hours 9:00-16:30 [last admission at 16:20]
Admission Fee ¥500 (The Hatto admission fee is separate from that for Tenryu-ji's garden and buildings.)
No charge for preschoolers
Place Hatto