Rokuo-in Temple (鹿王院)

Rokuo-in Temple is an independent Buddhist temple under the Rinzai Sect lineage located in Saga Kitabori-cho, Ukyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City. Its sango (literally, "mountain name"), which is the title prefixed to the name of a Buddhist temple is Kakuyuzan (Mt. Kakuyu). The principal image is Shaka Nyorai (Shakyamuni). The kaiki (founding patron) was Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, and the kaizan (first head priest) was Myoha SHUNOKU.


Rokuo-in Temple was a sub-temple (a temple established to protect the graves of successive chief priests) of Hodo-ji Temple which was founded by Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA. After Hodo-ji Temple disappeared as a result of the Onin War, only the kaizan's sub-temple Rokuo-in Temple remained and took on the temple registration.

The Muromachi period record "Kaei Sandai-ki" (Record of the Flowering Three Generations) and the kaizan's biography "Hodo Kaizan Chikaku Fumyo Kokushi Gyoko Jitsuroku" state the following regarding the founding of Hodo-ji Temple.
One night in 1379, Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA had a revelation in a dream that told him 'You will fall ill this year and the only way to extend your life is to establish a temple for the worship of Hodo Bosatsu.'
This led Yoshimitsu to name as kaizan the Zen monk Myoha SHUNOKU (also known as Fumyo Kokushi) to whom he had become devoted, and the temple was completed in 1380. It is said that the original temple name was Kosei-ji Temple but that this was later changed to Hodo-ji Temple (formal name Daifukuden Hodo-zenji Temple). Rokuo-in Temple was founded in 1387 as a sub-temple to protect the grave of the kaizan after his death (Myoha SHUNOKU passed away in the following year of 1388).

Hodo-ji Temple was a large temple ranked 5th of the 10 great Zen temples but disappeared as a result of the Onin War. Only the sub-temple Rokuo-in remained. Rokuo-in Temple was restored by Tadatomo SAKAI (the son of Tadatsugu SAKAI, one of Tokugawa-Shitenno (four generals serving Ieyasu TOKUGAWA)) between 1661 and 1673, and Tadatomo's son Genchiku KOSHIN was named restoration kaizan.


Somon gate: A kirizuma-zukuri style (gable roof) with a traditional tiled roof. Estimated to have been constructed during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts soon after the temple's founding.

Main hall (Kaizan-do): A hosangen (the length between front pillars and those of side pillars are three squared mats) yosemune-zukuri style (hipped roof on a square building) building with a pantile roof. The building serves as both Buddha hall housing the principal image seated statue of Shaka Nyorai and the burial place of the kaizan Myoha SHUNOKU. In addition to the principal image statue, it also houses works including a statue of Fumyo Kokushi (Myoha SHUNOKU), a statue of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA and a statue of Koshin Osho. It was established in 1676.

Shariden (reliquary hall): A hosangen, hogyo-zukuri style (conical roof with no horizontal ridge beam) building with a pantile roof and a pent roof enclosure. The miniature shrine within the hall houses a two-tier pagoda containing Buddhist relics offered by MINAMOTO no Sanetomo (only open to the public on October 15). It was established in 1763.

Garden: The flat dry landscape garden incorporating the scenery of Arashiyama at the front of the reliquary hall is covered with moss and decorated with stone arrangements and shrubs. It is estimated to date from around 1763 when the reliquary hall was established.

Cultural Properties

Important Cultural Properties
Color on silk portrait of Muso Kokushi (designated an Important Cultural Property in 1906) inscribed by Toryo Eiyo.
Color on silk portrait of Muso Kokushi (designated an Important Cultural Property in 1922)
Monochrome ink painting on paper portrait of Shakamuni coming forth from the mountains
Monochrome ink on paper painting of orchids and rocks, painted by Bonpo
7 color on paper paintings depicting a Shakyamuni triad and the 30 founders, painted by Myocho
An imperial letter by the Emperor Godaigo
1 scroll of Rokuo-in Temple document
1 scroll of Kongo-in Temple document
Private records of an imperial visit, written by Muso Soseki (tsuketari (attachments): Records of Tenryu-ji Temple's construction)
2 works of calligraphy by Muso Soseki

In addition to the above, 8 Important Cultural Property designated Lotus Sutra (on color paper) scrolls were also kept at the temple but these are currently deposited at Nara National Museum.

Address and Access

Saga Kitabori-cho, Ukyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City
2 minutes walk from Rokuo-in Station on the Keifuku Electric Railroad.

7 minutes walk from Saga Arashiyama Station on the JR Sanin Main Line (Sagano Line).

5 minutes from the Kyoto Bus and Kyoto City Bus Shimo-Saga stop.

[Original Japanese]