Shogo-in Temple (聖護院)

Shogo-in Temple is the head temple of the Buddhist Honzan Shugen Sect located in Shogo-in Nakamachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. Before the foundation of this sect, the temple belonged to the Tendaijimon Sect. It does not have an honorific mountain prefix. The temple was founded by Zoyo and its principal image is a statue of Fudo Myoo.

It is one of the main temple of Japan's Shugendo (mountain asceticism) practice. During the early modern period, Shugendo was split into the 'Honzan school' and 'Tozan school' by the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and Shogo-in Temple was a central temple of the Honzan school. The temple prospered as a "Monzeki Temple" served by successive Cloistered Imperial Princes (male members of the Imperial family who were granted the title Imperial Prince after joining the Buddhist priesthood). It also served as a temporary Imperial Palace twice during the Edo Period.

Origin and History

The founder of Shogo-in Temple was Zoyo, a monk from Onjo-ji Temple. Zoyo acted as Emperor Shirakawa's guide during his visit to Kumano in 1090. As a reward, Zuyo was appointed Kumano Sanzan Kengyo (overseer of the three Kumano shrines) and was granted Joko-ji Temple, thought to have been founded by EN no Ozuno (a legendary character who believed to have founded Shugendo). This is the origin of Shogo-in Temple. The temple's name means 'Seitai Goji' (protect the emperor). The position of Kumano Sanzan Kengyo was later passed on to Onjo-ji Temple but had been held by Shogo-in Temple since the mid Muromachi period.

The temple's connection to Kumano deepened in 1236 when Cloistered Imperial Prince Joe, the son of Emperor Goshirakawa, who owned land in the area, served as head priest. Following Cloistered Imperial Prince Joe, successive Cloistered Imperial Princes served at the temple which became established as a Miya Monzeki-ji (Imperial Priest Temple) and came to occupy an important position within the Tendai Sect. In line with this role, the temple also consolidated the organization of Kumano's Shugendo and served an important role as Kumano Sanzan Kengyo.

The temple was later destroyed by fire on numerous occasions, including during the Onin War, and was relocated to northern Kyoto (present-day Iwakura, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City) and central Kyoto before being restored at its current site in 1676.

Shogo-in Temple has been nationally designated a historic site under the name 'Shogoin Kyukarikokyo' (lit. Shogo-in Temple Former Temporary Imperial Palace) as Emperor Kokaku and Emperor Komei temporarily used the temple as an Imperial Palace following the fires that broke out at Imperial Palace during the Edo period 1788 and 1854.

The temple came to belong to the Tendaijimon Sect as a result of the proclamation for the abolition of Shugendo in 1872 that followed the 1868 edict ordering the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism, but in 1946, after the Second World War, the Shugen Sect was established (the Honzan Shugen Sect was established in 1957) and the temple became independent of the Tendaijimon Sect.


Shoin (drawing room): Relocated from the Imperial Palace during the early Edo period and is a nationally designated Important Cultural Property.

Shinden (Emperor's residence)

Hon-do (main hall)

Important Cultural Properties

Shoin (drawing room)
Color painting on silk Kumano mandala image
Wooden seated statue of Chisho Daishi (Enchin)
Wooden standing statue of Fudo Myoo
Wooden standing statue of Fudo Myoo
Writing of Emperor Kokaku; Jinpen Daibosatsugo chokusho
Letter by the Retired Emperor Goyozei
One volume of Enchin Nitto Guho mokuroku, one sheet of Nyoirin shichushin Shingonkan, one sheet of Chisho Daishi-zo Zoryuganmon (all contained within the statue of Chisho Daishi)
Painting of Fukedonoyama in Yamashiro Province

Historic Site

Shogoin Kyukarikokyo (lit. Shogo-in Temple Former Temporary Imperial Palace)

Pilgrimage Sites

The 18th temple of the 36 Fudo Temples in the Kinki Pilgrimage.
EN no Gyoja Reiseki fudasho (EN no Gyoja-related holy place of pilgrimage)


January: Hatsugama (the first tea ceremony of New Year) held by the Hayami-ryu School.

August: Mountain monks assemble at the temple and depart for the "Omine-iri" pilgrimage to Kumano.

Additional Information

The Shogo-in district in Sakyo Ward is where the wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery) "Shogoin Yatsuhashi" and the dishes "Shogoin Daikon" (daikon radish), "Shogoin Kabu" (turnip) and "Shogoin Kyuri" (cucumber) originated. However Shogoin Kyuri no longer exists. Another cucumber dish known as "Shogoin Fushinari" is still made but is unrelated to Shogo-in Temple.


15 Shogo-in Nakamachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture


Take the Keihan Electric Railway Keihan Oto Line to Marutamachi Station and walk for seven minutes.

Neighboring Attractions

Heian-jingu Shrine

Kyoto University

Kumano-jinja Shrine

[Original Japanese]