Kyoto Temples & Shrines: Shoren-in Temple
Shoren-in Temple 青蓮院
Shoren-in Temple is one of five Monzeki Temples in Kyoto where members of the Imperial family traditionallly served as head priests. The other Monzeki temples are: Bishamondo, Manshuin, Myohoin, and Sanzenin in Ohara.
History of Shoren-in
Shoren-in dates from the 13th century and the name of the temple is said to derive from "Shoren-bo" - a dormitory for monks on Mt. Hiei built by the founder of the Tendai sect, Saicho.
The temple buildings were first constructed as a residence by the retired Emperor Toba for his seventh son to study Buddhism under the head priest Gyogen. The son became head priest of the temple and the tradition started of a member of the imperial family serving as the abbot of Shoren-in.
The famous priest Shinran (1173 - 1263), the founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Japanese Buddhism, is believed to have studied at Shoren-in and ordained a monk here at age 9.
In the 18th century the temple served as a temporary residence of the Japanese imperial family called Awata Gosho (Awata Palace) after the fire of 1788 and the Empress Go-Sakuramachi moved in.
Shoren-in Buildings & Gardens
Shoren-in Temple's main buildings are connected by wooden walkways. The Kachoden is a drawing room with views of the garden and the delightful Ryujin-no-ike Pond from its interior tatami space and beautiful painted fusuma sliding doors.
The Shijokodo Hall contains the main treasures of the temple, replicas are on display: a mandala presented to the temple by the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi and a painting of Fudo myo-o - a Buddhist, guardian deity connected with fire. The largest building in the temple precincts is the Shinden, close to a moss garden and tall camphor trees.
The gardens at Shoren-in are believed to have been designed by two of the greats of Japanese landscape: Soami (?-1525) and Enshu Kobori (1579-1647).
69-1 Sanjobocho, Awataguchi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0035
Tel: 075 561 2345
Admission: 500 yen
There are special late openings in spring and autumn when the gardens are illuminated for the amazing cherry blossoms and fall colors.