Gesshin-ji Temple (月心寺)

Gesshin-ji Temple is an independent temple under the Rinzai sect lineage, located in Otani, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture.


The predecessor of this temple was the prosperous Hashirii teahouse engaging in business in Oiwake, which used to be the busiest post-station town along the Tokai-do Road because it was very close to Osakayama checkpoint (or Osaka-no-Seki), the entrance to Kyoto, the capital of the day, and Otsu. The best water of Hashirii' is perennially springing out in the precincts even now.

It was a narrow plot of land approached by the mountains beyond the Osaka-no-Seki. The valley was filled with lots of houses closely built on the both sides of the road. Souvenir shops dealing in Otsu special products including Otsu-e (Otsu paintings, named after the town of Otsu in Shiga Prefecture), Otsu Abacus and needles, and teahouses stood side by side. Lots of travelers and horses and cows busily came and went. It was located on such a flourishing site.

A piece of Ukiyoe (Japanese woodblock prints) in 'Tokaido Gojusan-tsugi' (53 stages in Tokai-do Road) produced by Hiroshige UTAGAWA shows a scene of travelers taking a rest in teahouse by the springing out ' The best water of Hashirii.'
The teahouse was the predecessor of Gesshin-ji Temple.

The town declined following the expansion of National Route 1 and the opening of JR Tokaido Main Line. Unexceptionally, the teahouse was left to molder after the owner moved to Yahata. Kansetsu HASHIMOTO, a Japanese-style painter who did not want to allow the teahouse to fall into decay, bought it as his own second residence in 1914, and later it became the temple as we know it today.

Honzon (principal object of worship at a temple) is 'Dogyo Shotoku Taishi zo' (Statue of young Prince Shotoku). In the precincts, there are Hyakusai-do Hall enshrining the Hyakusai-zo, an imaginary portrait believed to represent the deceased ONO-no-Komachi's 100-year-old appearance, and a stone with an inscription of Haiku (a Japanese poem in seventeen syllables having a 5-7-5 syllabic form) composed by Basho MATSUO of 'What kinds of Buddha will painters of Otsu-e depict in New Year?' and so on. This temple has the circuit style garden. The temple boasts Shojin Ryori (a vegetarian dish). Especially, Goma-dofu (crushed sesame seeds boiled in water and chilled like tofu) cooked by a priestess Murasemyodo, the landlady of the hermitage, is peerless. Seifu-ji Temple appeared on NHK Morning Drama serials 'Honmamon' (That's natural) was modeled on the Gesshin-ji Temple.

[Original Japanese]