Shinsen-en Temple (神泉苑)

Shinsen-en Temple is a Buddhist temple belonging to the To-ji Shingon Sect located in Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City. Its principal image is Sho Kannon. The temple is situated to the south of Nijo-jo Castle and was originally a kin-en (a garden for the emperor) adjoined to the Imperial Palace in the city of Heian-kyo.


The site of Shinsen-en Temple was originally a kin-en garden that was created adjoining the south of the Imperial Palace at approximately the same time as the relocation of the capital city to Heian-kyo in the year 794. At this time, the large garden was centered around a pond and occupied an area stretching from Nijo-dori Street to Sanjo-dori Street and measured 400 m from north to south and 200 m from east to west.

The first recorded use of the name is an article in 'Nihongi Ryaku' and describes that the Emperor Kanmu visited on August 16, 800. A function was held in the year 802 and it appears that Shinsen-en Garden was used by the emperor and courtiers to entertain guests.

It was said that the Dragon God resided at Shinsen-en Garden, and that after Shubin of Sai-ji Temple and Kukai of To-ji Temple competed with each other in praying for rain in the year 824, the garden came under the control of To-ji Temple after Kukai was victorious.

The site fell into ruin after the middle ages and the size of the garden was drastically reduced in 1603 when Ieyasu TOKUGAWA incorporated the majority of the land into Nijo-jo Castle which he built in the area.

Legend states that it is the place in which MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune and Shizuka Gozen met and there is a theory that it is the origin of the name of 'Oike-dori Street' - one of the streets that runs from the east to west through Kyoto City (although there are also different theories). An ancient monument marking the easternmost edge of Shinsen-en Garden stands to the south of Nijo-jo Castle (Oshikoji Horikawa Higashi-hairu). This was identified during the construction of the Kyoto City Subway Tozai Line.

During the Second World War, the Kyoto Shimbun Newspaper included a column entitled 'Shinsen.'
It is likely that this name was derived from Shinsen-en.

Cultural properties

Wooden seated statue of Fudo Myoo (Important Cultural Property)

The precinct has been nationally designated a historic site.

Annual events

Dainenbutsu Kyogen is performed at the Kyogen-do Hall May 1-4 each year. Shinsen-en Temple is one of the temples at which Dainenbutsu Kyogen is performed in Kyoto in addition to Mibu-dera Temple, Seiryo-ji Temple and Injo-ji Temple (Kyoto City) (Senbon Enma-do).

[Original Japanese]