Shoden-ji, a Rinzai-shu sect Nanzen-ji school temple, is on the southern hillside of Funa-yama. The attraction of the rather infamous temple is a small but beautiful Karesansui garden. On stepping onto the deck of Hojo, you will see the masterpiece.
The garden is said to have been laid out by Kobori Enshu though no evidences have been found. In 1935, Shigemori Mirei restored it. When he visited the temple for the first time, he found several rocks placed in the garden incongruously. He believed that these stones were not included in the original design. He moved the rocks and found pieces of 20th century tiles. From this fact, he concluded that they were later additions. He removed them as well as a big pine tree beyond the wall of the garden. Now we can see Hiei-zan, or Mt. Hiei as Shakkei (borrowed scenery).
Hojo, the main hall, is said to have been moved from Fushimi-jo castle in 1653 and is an important cultural property. The ceiling panels of it's verandah were floor panels of Fushimi-jo on which many samurai committed harakiri suicide in the year 1600. The blood stained panels were used for the ceiling to pray for the repose of the dead. The ceiling is called Chitenjo, a bloody ceiling
History of Shoden-ji temple
In 1268 Seisei (spelling uncertain), a deacon of Shogo-in temple, built a Butsu-den hall somewhere close to Gosho and asked Togan Ean, a leading disciple of Chinese Zen master Gottan Funei (in Chinese, Wuan Puning), be the founder. Later Shoden-ji was destroyed by followers of Hiei-zan Enryaku-ji temple. In 1282, Mori Tsunehisa, a Shinto Priest, donated his land and built buildings for Shoden-ji. The buildings were destroyed during the civil war of Onin (1467-1477) and the temple fell into ruin. In 1615, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu reestablished the temple. Then, Shoden-ji once grew into such a big temple that has seven sub-temples but declined again. The last sub-temple was extinguished in the late Meiji era (1868-1912).
How to get to Shoden-ji temple
- 40 minutes from Kyoto Station to Jinko-ji bus stop by Kyoto City Bus No. 9 then 15 minutes on foot, or
- 38 minutes from Sanjo-Keihan-mae to Jinko-ji bus stop by Kyoto City Bus No. 37 then 15 minutes on foot, or
- 23 minutes from Kitaoji bus terminal to Jinko-ji bus stop by Kyoto City Bus No. 37 then 15 minutes on foot, or
- 26 minutes from Kitaoji bus terminal to Jinko-ji bus stop by Kyoto City Bus No. 1 then 15 minutes on foot.
Hours and Admission
9:00 am to 17:00
Click on a photo for a larger image.