Kyoto Gozan Temples (京都五山)

Kyoto Gozan Temples refers the status of a Buddhist temple, and to the system of state-sponsored temples of the Zen sect (Rinzai sect) in Kyoto among the Five Mountain System.

Since around the end of the Kamakura Period, the Hojo clan introduced the Five Mountain System and selected Kamakura Five Mountain after the example of the Southern Sungs. In the latter part of the Kamakura Period, the Emperor Godaigo started an anti-Shogunate movement and when the Kenmu Restoration by the Emperor Godaigo began after the fall of the Shogunate, the Five Mountain System was reformed to meet with Kyoto. During the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), after Takauji ASHIKAGA left the Kenmu Government, Five Mountain was newly selected from temples in Kyoto mainly by Soseki MUSO, whom the Ashikaga Shogunate family trusted, because Takauji and his brother Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA trusted the Zen sect. Although there were several changes of selection, in 1386 the third Shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA determined it as follows after construction of Shokoku-ji Temple, and took over the power of appointing chief priests by the system of Sorokushi (僧録司) and therefore controlled temples, which added a religious aspect to the prestige of the Shogunate.

The priests of Five Mountain, such as Myoha SHUNOKU and Shushin GIDO, were familiar with Chinese culture and played roles as diplomatic counselors when Yoshimitsu carried out trade between the Ming Dynasty and Japan (licensed trade).

Nanzen-ji Temple - Bekkaku (exceptional)

Tenryu-ji Temple - the first grade*

Shokoku-ji Temple - the second grade*

Kennin-ji Temple - the third grade

Tofuku-ji Temple - the fourth grade

Manju-ji Temple - the fifth grade

*Moreover, in accordance with Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA's wish, Shokoku-ji Temple was changed to the first grade and Tenryu-ji Temple was changed to the second grade on April 27, 1401, but after Yoshimitsu's death they were reverted back to the former grades on April 11, 1410.

[Original Japanese]