Daisen-in Temple (大仙院)

Daisen-in Temple is a sub-temple within the precincts of Daitoku-ji Temple in Kita Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture.

Origin and History

The temple was founded in 1509 by Kogaku Soko (Daisho Kokushi), the 76th chief priest of Daitoku-ji Temple. It is famous as the main retreat of the Kita (Northern) School and is the most respected of the 22 sub-temples of Daitoku-ji Temple.

Daisen-in Temple's 3rd chief priest, Kokei, brought the severed head of SEN no Rikyu, that was exposed beside the Kamo-gawa River due to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's anger, back to the temple grounds and compassionately burying it. The temple is also famous as the place in which the 7th chief priest Takuan Soho, who is believed to have invented the pickle 'Takuan', instructed Musashi MIYAMOTO in the secrets of kendo (Japanese swordsmanship).

Soen OZEKI, who has served as chief priest since 1965, has written numerous books and is known for his rousing sermons.

National Treasures

Main hall (abbot's chamber) (including entrance hall): Was constructed in 1513 to serve as the retirement retreat for Kogaku Soko and the oldest abbot's chamber in Japan after those of Ryogin-an of Tofuku-ji Temple. Daisen-in Temple was constructed at the time when 'toko no ma' (lit. alcove rooms) were starting to appear, and this main hall has been designated a National Treasure for its possession of what is considered to be the oldest toko no ma in Japan as well as the oldest entrance hall in the country.

Calligraphy of Daito Kokushi

Important Cultural Properties

Light-colored painting on paper 'Shiki Kosaku-zu' (images of farming in the four seasons) eight panels (located in the greeting room, the work of Yukinobu KANO)
Color painting on paper 'Kacho-zu' (images of flowers and birds) eight panels (located in the temple patron's room, the work of Motonobu KANO)
Monochrome ink painting on paper 'Sho Sho Hakkei-zu' (images of the eight designated scenes of the area around the confluence of the Xiao and Xiang rivers and Lake Dongting in China's Hunan province) six panels (located in the central room, the work of Soami)
Monochrome ink painting on paper 'Sho Sho Hakkei-zu' 16 panels (located in the central room, believed to be the work attributed to Soami)
The four listed above were originally sliding screen paintings within the abbot's quarters but have have since been remodelled as hanging scrolls. These works are representative of the Muromachi period and have even been displayed at the Louvre Museum in France. Of the former sliding panel paintings of the abbot's quarters, 24 panels including the ink painting 'Zenshu Soshi-zu' (image of the Zen Sect founder) that were in the Ihatsu no ma room are now in the possession of Tokyo National Museum.

Botan Kujaku Tsuishu-bon (red lacquerware basin with peony and peacock patterns carved in relief)

Special Place of Scenic Beauty and Historic Site

Dry landscape garden: Representative of the dry landscape gardens of the Muromachi period. The garden was created by temple founder Kogaku Soko and depicts in sand the waterfall that descends Mt. Penglai with water spilling over the dam into the ocean, as well as a treasure ship and crane and turtle symbolizing longevity that have been created using rocks. The drawing room has an open veranda to give a feeling of continuity with the garden, and the structure has been designed so that the garden can be viewed when sitting in the tatami room or on the veranda.


Take the Kyoto City Bus from JR Kyoto station to 'Daitoku-ji mae' bus stop (about 30 minutes) and walk.

[Original Japanese]