Shorin-in Temple

Kyoto Temples & Shrines: Shorin-in Temple

Shorin-in Temple 勝林院

Shorin-in is a stately Tendai sect temple located in the lovely village of Ohara to the north east of Kyoto. Shoren-in is associated with the study of Buddhist chanting called shomyo.

Shoren-in's two sub-temples are the nearby Jikko-in and Hosen-in, one of the so-called "Bloody Temples of Kyoto."

Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto.
Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto
Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto.
Bell Tower, Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto

History of Shorin-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 visit to 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, Jikko-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.

Shorin-in was supposedly the venue for a meeting between the Tendai priest Kenshin and Honen, the founder of the Jodo-shu (Pure Land) school, when the great men discussed the intent of prayer.

Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto.
Image of the historical Buddha, flanked by Fudo Myo-o, Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto

Shorin-in Buildings

The Main Hall (Hondo) of Shorin-in dates from 1777 during the Edo Period and along with the Bell Tower is designated a Tangible Cultural Asset by Kyoto city.

The images within the Main Hall include a statue of the seated Nyorai Buddha (the historical Gautama Buddha) flanked by statues of Fudo Myo-o and Bishamonten, the guardian deity of the north.

Outside in the moss-covered garden, the stone tower, Hokyointo is believed to date back to 1316.

The temple is little visited but after paying your entrance fee, the attendant may switch on a tape of shomyo chants while you admire the impressive statues in the tranquil Hondo.

Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto.
Statue of Fudo Myo-o, Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto
Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto.
Shorin-in Temple in winter, Ohara, Kyoto

Shorin-in Access

Shorin-in Temple
187 Shorin-in-cho
Ohara, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 601-1242
Tel: 075 744 2409
Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 300 yen

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.

Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto.
Shorin-in Temple, Ohara, Kyoto

Ohara Attractions

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 Jikko-in Temple, the latter two both sub-temples 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.

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