Temples & Shrines: Daitokuji
Daitokuji Temple 大徳寺
Daitokuji is a functioning Rinzai Zen temple complex in northwest Kyoto. The Daitokuji compound is a city within walls made up of 24 sub-temples, eight of which are open to the public. Of particular note are the small sub-temples Daisen-in and Koto-in for their lovely, though small, gardens. Koto-in is known for its spectacular red maples.
The temple is also called Ryuho-zan, which means "dragon treasure mountain." Daitokuji Temple was established in 1319 by Shuho Myocho.
During the Onin War, parts of the temple were destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt with money from Sakai (Osaka) merchants and later supported by many Daimyo (feudal lords). The abbot responsible for organizing the rebuilding process was Ikkyu (1394-1481) and his former residence Shinjuan contains a statue of this revered priest and a tablet of his writing.
It was here in Daitokuji in 1582 that Toyotomi Hideyoshi conducted the funeral service of Oda Nobunaga, who had been killed in Honnoji Temple, starting a fashion to build tatchu or minor temple buildings for military commanders in the complex.
Free Admission for the main precincts; fees for the sub-temples & gardens.
The Sammon (Two-Story Main Gate, aka Kimmokaku) dates from 1589 and was reputedly built by the tea ceremony master Sen-no-Rikyu (1522-1591). The gate contains a self-statue by the great man himself. Sen-no-Rikyu fell out with the Toyotomi Hideyoshi and was forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide), supposedly the source of the warlord's wrath was the statue on the gate.
Sen-no-Rikyu 2m-tall stone tombstone is in the Jukoin sub-temple at Daitoku-ji, along with a tearoom designed by the master.
The Butsuden (Main Hall) is also full of artistic treasures as is the Hojo (the Superior's Residence), which has sliding doors painted by Tanyu Kano (1602-1674) and a garden designed by Enshu Kobori (1579-1647).
Daisen-in has paintings by Motonobu Kano (1476-1559) and its garden is one of the most highly-regarded in Japan and was designed by the 77th abbot of the temple Shuko Kogaku (1465-1548)
Oda Nobunaga was buried on the grounds of the temple after his murder in 1582. His tomb and those of his sons rest in the precincts of the Soken-in sub-temple as does the grave of Hideyoshi's wife.
The Ryosen-an sub-temple (Tel: 075 411 0543) holds early morning zazen (Zen meditation) sittings.
Daitokuji Temple interior showing a painted fusama screen, large gong and mokugyo
Daitokuji Temple is a fifteen minute walk from Kitaoji Subway station (Karasuma Line). Or, take #205 or #206 bus from Kyoto Station and get off at Daitokuji-mae bus stop.
Book Hotel Accommodation in Kyoto Near Daitokuji