Kyoto Temples & Shrines: Jikko-in Temple
Jikko-in Temple 実光院
Jikko-in is a small but beautiful temple located in the lovely village of Ohara to the north east of Kyoto. Jikko-in is best known for its two gardens which are beautiful all year round but particularly during the autumn colors season.
History of Jikko-in
Shorin-in was founded by the monk Jakugen in 1013, a follower of the Tendai monk Ennin (794-864), posthumously known as Jikaku Daishi. It was Ennin who introduced Buddhist hymns and chanting known as shomyo to Japan, following his stay in China from 838-847. On his return, Ennin became the third abbot of Enryakuji Temple on nearby Mt. Hiei.
With the establishment of Shorin-in, Hosen-in and later Raigo-in, Ohara became the center of shomyo in Japan and the abbots of these temples have dedicated themselves to its study and development. These Buddhist chants originated in India, the birthplace of Buddhism, and were transmitted to Japan via China. Buddhist music was to influence other forms of Japanese music over the centuries.
Jikko-in relocated to its present site in 1919 from nearby.
Jikko-in Buildings & Gardens
The Kyakuden (Guest Hall) was reconstructed in 1921 and contains Edo Period paintings by the Kano School of artists hanging in the hall's lintel known as ranma. The tatami room and tokonoma have a collection of various ancient musical instruments including bells used at the temple for study of Buddhist chants.
The Keishin-en Garden dates from the late Edo Period and is a viewing garden with koi carp-filled pond and fountain (chisen). The garden can be admired from within the hall or slippers are provided to step outside.
The pond is in the shape of the Chinese character for heart (kokoro; 心) and is fed from the Ritsu River. The rocks near the waterfall are meant to represent the sacred mountain of Horai in China. The pine tree on the artificial hill (tsukiyama) is emblematic of a crane, while the island in the pond represents a tortoise. Both animals symbolize longevity and happiness in Japan.
The stroll garden below the temple is a later addition and includes a gourd-shaped pond, rocks gathered from the surrounding countryside and a tea house. There are also stone lanterns, moss, small stone pagodas and the borrowed scenery (shakkei) of Mount Konpira and Mount Koshio to admire.
The garden also includes a rare variety of cherry tree that blooms from the end of September to the spring, thus offering the unusual juxtaposition of red maple leaves and cherry blossom in one place.
Ohara, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 601-1241
Tel: 075 744 2537
Admission: 500 yen or 700 yen with matcha green tea
By bus to Ohara take a Kyoto bus #17 (white color) from Kyoto Station to the Ohara bus stop and then walk about 10 minutes. You can also pick up the #17 bus at Demachiyanagi Station. The journey from Kyoto Station takes an hour and a bit in total.
Alternatively, take an Eiden Line train from Demachiyanagi Station to Yase-Hieizanguchi Station and then change to bus #19. You can also get on bus #19 at Kokusaikaikan Station on the Kurasama Line of the Kyoto subway.
Ohara is outside the area covered by the 1-day Kyoto bus pass.
The Kyoto bus #16 goes to Ohara from Shijo Kawaramachi Station but there are only a few buses a day departing at 6.47am, 7.17am and 9.52pm. From Ohara to Shijo Kawaramachi buses return from Ohara in the evening at 8.20pm, 9.10pm and 9.40pm.
There is much to see in Ohara, which is well worth a half-day or full-day excursion from Kyoto. Other important temples in Ohara include the Jakko-in Nunnery, Raigo-in Temple, Housenin (Hosen-in), one of the so called bloody temples of Kyoto and a sub-temple of Shorin-in Temple. The most famous temple in Ohara is, of course, Sanzen-in.
Also in Ohara are the tombs of two emperors: Go Toba (died 1239) and Juntoku (died 1242) and the so-called Soundless Waterfall or Otonashi-no-taki near Raigo-in.
The road up to Sanzen-in from the bus stop is lined with souvenir shops selling local produce including mochi and yuzu, restaurants and there are a number of traditional Japanese inns or ryokan to stay in Ohara. Recommended ryokan in Ohara include Gyozanen Onsen Ryokan, Ohara no Sato and Ohara Sanso.