Shosei-en Garden (Kikoku-tei)
Shosei-en is a second residence of Higashi Hongan-ji, that originally was constructed as a retreat of the chief priest Sen'nyo (1602-1658). This place is also called Kikoku-tei (Trifoliate Orange Mansion) because it was surrounded by trifoliate orange trees.
The garden is a Chisen-Kaiyu-Shiki teien (pond stroll garden) with buildings such as tea-ceremony houses arranged here and there. The garden has somewhat different atmosphere than usual Japanese gardens. The gardener for Shosei-en says that the garden looks like a park more than a garden probably because of the large lawn and the pond next to it.
Regrettably, recent developments in the downtown Kyoto has been making concrete buildings be seen from the garden.
History of Shosei-en
The place was donated to Higashi Hongan-ji in1641 by the third Tokugawa Shogun, Iemitsu. The garden was completed in 1657. Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672), a close friend of Sen'nyo, is believed to have been involved in laying out the garden.
In the year 1827, Rai Sanyo (1780-1832), a historian and scholar of the Wang Yang-Ming school, wrote that it was traditionally said that Shosei-en had been the ruins of Kawara-no-in Mansion of the Minister of the Left, Minamoto no Toru (822-895). (Though, recent researches with the literature and excavation revealed that it was his misunderstanding and not true. Please see the foot note for reference materials on this matter.)
All of the buildings of Shosei-en were destroyed by fires in 1858 and 1864 and rebuilt from 1865 to 1868.
How to get to Shosei-en
- 7 minutes from Kyoto Station on foot.
Hours and Admission
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.
Donation of 500 yen is requested.
Click on a photo for full image.
Reference Materials denying relation between Kawara-no-in and Shosei-en (all written in Japanese):
- Heibonsha Chiho Shiryo Senta (Heibonsha Local Material Center). Jiin-Jinja Dai-jiten (Dictionary of Temples and Shrines) of Kyoto/Yamashiro. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1997
"Rai Sanyo wrote that it was traditionally said Shosei-en had been the ruins of Kawara-no-in of the Minister of the Left, Minamoto no Toru, but it is not true because Kawara-no-in was located in present-day Gojo Kyogoku-Minami."
- Ono Kenkichi. Nihon Teien Jiten (Dictionary of Japanese Garden), Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2004.
"It is written in Rai Sanyo's Shosei-en-ki that this place had been the ruins of Kawara-no-in of the Minister of the Left, Minamoto no Toru, but it's possibility has been denied by researches with the literature and excavation."
- Matsuoka Mitsuru. The atlas of ancient Kyoto (Heian-kyo), Kyoto: Mitsumura Suiko Shoin, 2008
This map indicates Kwara-no-in was about 400 meters (1/4 mile) north-northeast of Shosei-en.