Sanboin Garden of Daigo-ji Temple (醍醐寺三宝院庭園)

Sanboin Garden of Daigo-ji Temple is a Japanese style garden located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. It is the garden of Sanboin, an Inge (a branch temple to support services of the main temple) of Daigo-ji Temple, and was designated as a national historic site and a place of special scenic beauty in 1952.


In 874, Rigen Daishi Shobo, a second generation disciple of Kukai, built Daigo-ji Temple on Kasatori-yama Mountain (located in Kyoto Prefecture). The areas around the top and the foot of the mountain are called 'Kami-Daigo' (upper Daigo) and 'Shimo-Daigo' (lower Daigo), respectively, and both areas flourished with magnificent dotogaran (the temple's halls, pagodas and cathedrals). Sanboin was established by Shokaku in 1115, the 14th zasu (head priest) of Daigo-ji Temple, and produced many zasu for generations. In particular, the zasu at Daigo-ji Temple was monopolized by the zasu at Sanbo-in since 1428. However, many buildings of Daigo-ji Temple, including Sanbo-in, were lost in fires caused by fighting in the Onin War started in 1467, laying ruin to the temple.

The ruined temple was reconstructed by Gien, who assumed the post of the 80th zasu in 1576. Gien had a great patron in Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and in 1598 held a cherry blossom-viewing party at Daigo, centered on Kongorin-in of the Daigo-ji Temple. In addition, he had the title of 'Sanbo-in' inherited by Kongorin-in. This is the start of present Sanbo-in.

Sanboin Garden was basically designed by Hideyoshi himself when the cherry blossom-viewing party at Daigo was held. The construction of the garden started in April after the cherry blossom-viewing party at Daigo ended, and, after Hideyoshi died in August, was continued under guidance of Gien. Gien advanced the plan, based on Hideyoshi's basic design, and had first-class garden designers participated in building the garden. Kentei, who was called 'the best rockwork expert in Japan,' was also included in the garden designers. The work to construct the garden continued for 27 years until Gien died in 1624.

Sanbo-in Garden was initially designed as a Kansho-shiki garden (a garden whose view is to be enjoyed) to be viewed from the omote shoin (main drawing room). However, after Gien died, a house for tea ceremony was built in the garden and the garden itself was modified so as to provide circulating walking paths. In the pond at the center of the garden, there are a 'kame-shima island' (literally, a tortoise island) and a 'tsuru-shima island' (literally, a crane island), each connected to the land around the pond with a bridge. The 'Fujito-ishi' (Fushito stone) placed on the front side was originally in the residence of the Hosokawa clan, a kanrei-ke family (a family in the post of kanrei, or shogunal deputy), and Hideyoshi had the stone brought here from the Jurakudai residence. On the back side, a three-step fall made of artificially-placed rocks makes for varied sound of flowing water. Sanbo-in Garden is precious as a Japanese garden where the gorgeous atmosphere of the Azuchi-Momoyama period can be felt, and was designated as a national special historic site and a place of special beauty in 1952.

[Original Japanese]