Shosei-en Garden (渉成園)

Shosei-en Garden is a detached landholding in Shimogyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture that belongs to Shinshu Honbyo (Higashi Hongan-ji Temple), the head temple of the Otani school of the Shin Sect. It is a national place of scenic beauty (designated in 1936).

The garden lies approximately 150 meters to the east of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple and is a square shape of almost 200 meters square. It occupies an area of 3.4 hectares. The site is bordered on the west by Ainomachi-dori Street, on the east by Kawaramachi-dori Street, on the north by Kami Juzuyacho-dori Street, and on the south by Shimo Juzuyacho-dori Street. The garden's name is derived from the words 'Yuan ri she er cheng qu' (The garden becomes more venerabl and stately day by day) written by the Chinese Six Dynasties period poet TAO Yuanming. Shosei-en is also commonly known as Kikoku-tei (house of trifoliate orange) due to the trifoliate orange trees that grow around the outside of the garden.

It is believed to be the old site of Rokujo Kawara-no-in residence, which garden was modeled on the scenery of Shiogama in Oshu and created at the end of ninth century by MINAMOTO no Toru, Emperor Saga's 12th child. The names of nearby places that have remained until today such as Shiogama-cho and Shiokoji-dori Street are the remnants of this. The site was donated to Higashi Hongan-ji Temple by Iemitsu TOKUGAWA in 1641 and made into a stroll garden incorporating shoin-shiki (study room style) architecture by Jozan ISHIKAWA in 1653. From the early modern period to the modern era, the garden was used as a place where the chief priest secluded or guests from foreign countries were treated and it played a major role as a detached landholding of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple. Additionally, a dormitory (the origin of Otani University) stood at the western border of the site from 1678 to 1754.

The vast Ingetsu-chi Pond covers one sixth of entire area of the garden which is also dotted with elegant works including the thirteen sceneries selected by Rai San yo; a large drawing room named 'Rofu-tei'; three teahouses named 'Sochin-kyo', 'Shukuen-tei' and 'Tairitsu-seki'; and a Jibutsu-do hall (personal Buddha statue hall) of the 21st high priest Gonnyo, named 'Onrin-do'. Within the buildings remain the works of the artists including Jozan ISHIKAWA, Eino of KANO school and Shiko MUNAKATA. The garden retains the look of when it was first created but the buildings were destroyed by fire in the late Edo period and rebuilt from 1865 until the early Meiji period.

Shosei-en Garden is open to the public all year round and used as the venue for some of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple's events.

[Original Japanese]