Manshuin Temple (曼殊院)

Manshuin Temple is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai Sect that is located at Ichijo-ji Temple in Sakyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City. It does not have a sango (literally, "mountain name," which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple). Its principal image is Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata), and the founder of the temple was Zesan. Because it is a monzeki temple (a special temple where the hereditary position of Juji (chief priest), is held by a member of the imperial family or an aristocrat), Manshuin Temple is also known as Takeuchi Monzeki; it is also one of the Tendai Go Monzeki (the 5 major monzeki temples of the Tendai Sect), the other temples being Shorenin Temple, Sanzenin Temple (Kajii Monzeki), Myohoin Temple, and Bishamon Do Temple. Its many cultural properties include the Ki Fudo (a hanging scroll of a Buddhist god known as the Yellow Fudo (Acala)) and the Manshuin Bon Kokin Wakashu (the Manshuin Temple version of Kokin Wakashu (A Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry), both of which are national treasures. It is the seventeenth Fudoson (Acala) of the 36 Kinki Fudoson.


Like other Tendai monzeki temples, a bo (small temple) that began on Mt. Hiei during time of Saicho (767 - 822) is said to be the origin. Afterward, it moved its base to Kitayama (around present day Rokuon-ji Temple in Ukyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City) in around the twelfth century, moved inside the capital (around present-day Shokoku-ji Temple in Kamigyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City), and it was in 1656 that it moved to its present location.

The temple history states that a bo ran by Dengyo Daishi Saicho up on Mt. Hiei is the origin. After Ennin and Anne, at the time of Zesan in the later half of the tenth century, it moved to Kitadani in Saito (Western Section), which is one of the Hieizan Santo (The three temple precincts on Mt. Hiei), and named Tobi-bo. Saicho, Ennin, and Anne, are names representing religious lineage of Buddhism in Tendai Sect, and it can be said that the history of Manshuin virtually begin in the period of Zesan. It is not very clear about Zesan's achievements, but it is said that he was a disciple of Emperor Kazan (968 - 1008).

Manshuin Temple and Kitano Tenjin

Manshuin Temple, ever since the Heian period until the end of the early-modern period, had intimate relations with Kitano-jinja Shrine (present day Kitano Tenmangu Shrine), and successive monshu (head priest) of Manshuin Temple also assumed the position of betto (the superior of a temple) of Kitano Shrine. There is a common opinion saying that since Zesan, the first monshu of Manshuin, was from the Sugawara clan, he was appointed as the betto of Kitano-jinja Shrine, which holds Michizane SUGAWARA as enshrined god, when it was constructed (in 947). Further, there is another theory about the appointment of Zesan stating that it was not when Kitano-jinja Shrine was constructed, but that he was appointed as head priest when Emperor Ichijo made Gyoko (Emperor's visit) to Kitano-jinja Shrine (in 1004). When considering that there are seventy years difference between the year which is said to be the construction year of Kitano-jinja Shrine (947) and the year Zesan died (1018), it is likely that the theory stating that the appointment was in 1004 is more appropriate.

In the era of Tennin (1108 - 1110), at the time of Chujin, who was the 8th monshu counting from Zesan, betsuin (a sub temple) was constructed at Kitayama (present day Ukyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City) not far from Kitano-jinja Shrine, and the name of the temple was changed to 'Manshuin Temple.'
It is believed that the reason he constructed betsuin was for convenience to manage Kitano-jinja Shrine. Honbo (main bo) on Mt. Hiei and betsuin at Kitayama were both operated at the same time for a while, but gradually betsuin at Kitayama became the main temple.

Another Moving and Re-Flourishing by Cloistered Imperial Prince Yoshinao

Manshuin Temple, located at Kitayama, had to be moved for the construction of Kitayamaden (later Rokuon-ji Temple) by Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, and moved inside the capital Kyoto in the era of Koryaku (1379 - 1381). The new location was at the south of Shokoku-ji Temple, present inside the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden in Kamigyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City.

In around 1495, after Cloistered Imperial Prince Jiun of Daisojo (high priest), who was the son of Imperial Prince Fushiminomiya Sadatsune and an adopted child of Emperor Gotsuchimikado, became the twenty-sixth monshu and entered the temple, it became a custom for a member of the Imperial family to serve as a monshu in Manshuin Temple, and the position as miya-monzeki (temples headed by imperial princes) was established.

It was the twenty-ninth monshu Imperial Prince Yoshinao (Imperial male who received Imperial proclamation for shinno after becoming a priest) who moved Manshuin Temple to the foot of Mt. Higashi mountain, the present day location, and fixed the view of the temple. The moving of Manshuin Temple to the present location was in 1656, and Oshoin (Also known as hondo (main hall)) and Koshoin (small study) that exist now were made at that time. It is said that this place, like Manshuin Temple, was one of the small bo on Mt. Hiei, and was a site of Getsurin-ji Temple, where Kangakue (an association for prayers) was started by YOSHISHIGE no Yasutane and others, but later disbanded.

Imperial Prince Yoshinao was the second son of Imperial Prince Hachijonomiya Toshihito, who was famous for building Katsura Rikyu (Katsura Imperial Villa), and was a adopted child of Emperor Gomizunoo. Imperial Prince Yoshinao was not only a Buddhist who served as Tendai-zasu (head priest of the Tendai Sect), but also was a cultivated person who was familiar with Sado (tea ceremony), Kado (flower arrangement), Kodo (traditional incense-smelling), waka (a 31-syllable Japanese poem), Shodo (calligraphy), and landscape gardening, and the influence that he had on the culture of the time was great. The cultural properties handed down in Manshuin Temple, such as chashitsu (tea room), Kokindenju archive (archive to hand down the secrets of Kokin Wakashu), and Tatebana Zu (a sketch of Tatebana, or decorated flowers, made by Senko IKENOBO, who was the 2nd head of Ikenobo School), shows how broad the Imperial Prince's hobbies and educational knowledge were.


Its precinct is located at the western foot of Mt. Hiei. The walls of both the right and left side of Chokushi-mon gate (the gate for the Imperial Envoys), which is the entrance, are tsukiji walls (walls made with mud) with 5 horizontal lines, showing the high formality of the temple as a monzeki temple. Main constructions are Entrance hall, Oshoin, Koshoin, kuri (monastery kitchen), and goma-do Hall (a hall for the goma (holy fire) rites). There is no main butsudo (Buddhist temple), and the principle image is enshrined at the butsuma (the room where the family Buddhist altar is placed) in Oshoin. Karesansui (dry landscape) garden is said to have been made by Enshu KOBORI.

Oshoin (Also known as hondo) - constructed in 1656. It is also called 'hondo' (main hall) since the principle image, the standing statue of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata), is enshrined at the butsuma, but from bokusho (writing in India ink) and other articles found when repairing with dismantling, it is understood that it was called 'Oshoin' at the time of construction. It is a residential-like construction with yosemune-zukuri (a square or rectangular building, covered with a hipped roof) and kokerabuki (roofed with shingles). There is 'Jussetsu no ma' (room of Ten Snow) at the east side from the front, 'Taki no ma' (room of Waterfall) at the west side, behind 'Jussetsu no ma' is 'butsuma,' and behind 'Taki no ma' is 'Hika no ma' (a waiting room). Concrete shapes such as gourds and fans are designed to sugido (sliding doors made of cedar) in the construction, and the common sense design can be seen with the goten (palace) of Katsura Rikyu. The wooden seated statue of Jikei Daishi (important cultural property) is enshrined at tokonoma (alcove) in 'Jussetsu no ma,' and other statues of Buddha, with the principle image of Amida Nyorai in the center, are enshrined in butsuma.

Koshoin - stands at the north-eastern side of Oshoin (hondo). It was constructed at the same time as Oshoin, and has yosemune-zukuri and kokerabuki. It has 'Fuji no ma' (room of Mt. Fuji) at the south-eastern side and a main fort 'Tasogare no ma' (room of twilight) with toko (alcove) and tana (shelf) in the north of its layout, and the western side of the construction is divided into several small rooms including 2 jo no chashitsu (tea room in 3.3 square meters area).
The tana at the side of tokonoma of 'Tasogare no ma' is made with several kinds of wood, and is known as 'Manshuin Temple-dana.'
The fretwork of ranma (transom) at the border of 'Fuji no ma' and 'Tasogare no ma' and kugikakushi (object which conceals the head of nail) with cloisonne ware, are also the characteristics of this construction. There is another chashitsu, not the 2 jo no chashitsu mentioned above, attached to the north side of Koshoin, and it is known as 'Hassoken' (literally, house of eight windows).

Hassoken - chashitsu adjoining the north side of Koshoin. It is believed that it was constructed at the same time as Oshoin and Koshoin. It is hirasanjodaime (6.19 square meters (3 tatami mats and one daimedatami (three-quarters tatami mats)) with tatami mats laying in wide plan) and gezadoko-no-seki (name of layout of chashitsu when tokonoma is behind the position of the host). Designs of Enshu KOBORI style can be seen here and there. Renjimado (a window with vertical or horizontal wooden laths or bamboo) above nijiriguchi (small door which leads into a tea ceremony hut) is especially famous for it makes a shadow like a rainbow.

National Treasures

Color painting on silk, a portrait of Fudo Myoo (Ki Fudo (Yellow Cetaka)) - one of the portraits produced based on Ki Fudo Zo (produced in the early Heian period) located in Enjo-ji Temple (Miidera Temple) in Shiga Prefecture, and is estimated to have been produced in around the twelfth century, in the late Heian period. Deposited at the Kyoto National Museum.

Kokin Waka Shu (Manshuin-bon (Manshuin Temple version)), 1 volume - a manuscript copy of Kokin Wakashu written on dyed paper with different colors with elegant Japanese style handwriting, and is an article that goes back to the eleventh century. It is known as a masterpiece of kana (Japanese syllabary) in the Heian period, along with Koya-gire-bon Kokin Wakashu (fragments of the Kokin Wakashu from the monastery on Mt. Koya manuscript), and so on. Deposited at the Kyoto National Museum.

Important Cultural Properties

Oshoin (hondo) (with corridor)
Koshoin (with chashitsu)
Kuri (the priest's living quarters or the kitchen of a temple)
Paintings on paper sliding doors of the Entrance Hall (color painting on gold-foil paper, Chikko-zu (painting of bamboo and tiger): 11 screen. Color painting on silk, Zegaibo-e (painting of Zegaibo, the Goblin): 2 volumes. Color painting on silk, Sochu-zu (painting of grass and insects): 2 scrolls, drawn by Keiho RO. Wooden seated statue, Jikei Daishi. Three volumes of Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji); Yomogiu (A Waste of Weeds), Usugumo (Wisps of Cloud), and Sekiya (The Gatehouse). Rongo Soryaku (General Summary of Analects of Confucius) (letters written in reverse side of the paper). Kyokunsho (Selections of Teaching) and Zoku-Kyokunsho (Selections of Teachings, Continued): 9 volumes. Archives relating to Kokin denju: 73 types. Gokashiwabara Tenno Shinkan Gotsuchimikado Gokashiwabara Ryo Tenno Eiso (Emperor Gokashiwabara's Letter, draft poem of both Emperor Gotsuchimikado and Gokashiwabara). Gold painting on navy blue paper, Hannya Shingyo (Heart Sutra), Gonara Tenno Shinkan (Emperor Gonara's letter to Awa Province). Hanazono Tenno Shinkan Goshosoku (Emperor Hanazono's letters) (7 letters). Hanazono Tenno Shinkan Goshosoku (about Fugen keizoji (Emperor Hanazono's letter about producing statues of Fugen (Samantabhadra), and so on). Jien Sojo Hitsu Shosoku (Jien Sojo (high-ranking Buddhist priest)'s letter to Gonshosho (Provisional Minor Captain) on October 5). Ikenobo Senko Tatebana-zu (42 figures): 1 screen.

Beautiful Sceneries


Cultural Property Once Possessed by Manshuin Temple

1. Monochrome ink painting on paper, Shuto Sansui-zu (landscape in autumn and winter): 2 scrolls, drawn by Sesshu (a property of Tokyo National Museum). 2. Monochrome ink painting on paper, Soo-zu (pine tree and a hawk): 2 scroll, drawn by Sesson (a property of Tokyo National Museum). 3. Monochrome ink painting on silk, Sekkei Sansui-zu (landscape with snow): Drawn by Shutan in Ming Dynasty (a property of Tokyo National Museum). 4. Light-colored painting on paper, Tohokuin Utaawase (poetry contest at Hohokuin) (a property of Tokyo National Museum). 5. Jien Sojo Ganmon Den Kasuga Hyohaku (Jien's Buddhist prayer that is said to be the ritual pronouncement for Kasuga Daimyojin (the great god of Kasuga)): saying, on October 6, 1224 (a property of Tokyo National Museum). 6. Jien Sojo Ganmon (Jien's Buddhist prayer) (a property of Tokyo National Museum). 7. Kogen Tenno Shinkan Shosoku (Emperor Kogen's letter) (April 7, 1349) (Imperial treasure). 8. Gohanazono Tenno Shinkan Shosoku (Emperor Gohanazono's letter) (June 19, 1463) (Imperial treasure). 9. Goyosei Tenno Shinkan Shosoku (Emperor Goyosei's letters) (29 letters): 1 scroll (Imperial treasures). 10. Color painting on silk, En-zu (monkey): Said to be written by Mosho in Southern Sung period (a property of Tokyo National Museum).

1 - 9 were cancelled from designation as national treasures (former national treasures) by the Law for the Preservation of National Treasures since they became the properties of the Imperial household in 1936. Also 1 - 6 were re-designated as important cultural properties (1 was designated as a national treasure by the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties) since they were nationalized after the war. 10 became nationalized in 1966, after the war.

Shodaibu (one who was granted Fourth or Fifth rank in Imperial Court) and Samurai in Manshuin Temple Monzeki

Shodaibu in Manshuin Temple Monzeki
The Yamamoto family. Shigetatsu YAMAMOTO (Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade), Chikuzen no kami (governor of Chikuzen Province)). Shigetane YAMAMOTO (Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), Mikawa no kami (the governor of Mikawa Province)). The Nishiike family. Sueyoshi NISHIIKE (Jugoinojo, Totomi no kami (the Governor of Totomi Province)). Samurai in Manshuin Temple Monzeki. Hisatoki OBATA (Jurokuinoge (Junior Sixth Rank, Lower Grade), Tanba no suke (assistant governor of Tanba Province)).

Location and Access

(Location) Takenouchi-cho, Ichijoji, Sakyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City.
20 minutes walk from Ichijoji Shimizucho Bus Stop of Kyoto City Bus and Kyoto Bus. 20 minutes walk from Shugakuin Station on Eizan Main Line, Eizan Electric Railway.

Guidance for Visit

9:00 - 17:00. Entrance fee is 500 Yen.

[Original Japanese]