Kenninji is a temple of the Zen sect, one of the main branches of Japanese Buddhism. Buddhism, founded approximately 2,500 years ago in India by Shakyamuni Buddha, teaches that the inherent suffering of life can be transcended through equanimity, wisdom, and compassion.
The Zen sect, dating back to sixth-century China, seeks the realization of this ideal through a strict training system stressing work and meditation.
At present, there are three branches of Zen in Japan – the Rinzai Soutou and Oubaku schools. Kennin-ji belongs to the Rinzai tradition. The temple was founded in 1202 by the priest Yousai (1141-1215).

Yosai, the founder of Kennin-ji, brought tea seeds back from China and popularized the practice of drinking green tea. He is recognized as the founder of the tea ceremony because of his efforts to encourage the cultivation and consumption of tea.

There is a tea garden on this grounds.

Usually, there is a dragon painting on the ceiling of the main hall of Zen temples. It is said that Dragon protects the temple from fire.