Shunko-in Temple (春光院)

Shunko-in Temple is a minor temple of Myoshin-ji Temple which is Grand Head Temple of Rinzai Sect in Hanazono, Ukyo-ku Ward, Kyoto City, and is located in the north of Okuri (the large living quarters).

Origin and History
Shunko-in Temple's original name was Shungen-in founded in 1590 by Yoshiharu HORIO, who was a vassal of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and later founder of Matsue City, in order to pray for the soul of his first son, Kanesuke HORIO, who was killed in the Battle of Odawara. Tadaharu HORIO, the third head of the Horio family, made a name for himself by allying with the Tokugawa Shogunate during the Siege of Osaka and received the attention of the government of the domain, but the family line came to an end due to the lack of a legitimate heir after Tadaharu died due to illness in 1633. As Tadaharu's daughter had married into the Ishikawa family, Noriyuki ISHIKAWA took over as the temple's main patron and the temple's name was changed to Shunko-in in 1636.

Shinichi HISAMATSU of modern philosopher and Zen Buddhist scholar spent time at the Shunko-in Temple some time during and after the Second World War where he would discuss Zen and modern philosophy with Daisetsu SUZUKI. Shunko-in Temple is one of the institutions responsible for playing a major part in spreading Japanese Zen to the rest of the world.

The temple is also famous as a temple for a prosperous trade as it enshrines Toyouke-Omikami, Geku (the outer shrine) of Ise-jingu Shrine, in the gardens.

Gardens and buildings
The garden at the front of the hojo (an abbot's chamber) created in 1867, known as 'Sazareishi-no-Niwa' (Garden of Boulders), and expresses the intentions of the Ishikawa clan who were both keepers of Kameyama Castle in Ise province and worshippers of Ise-jingu Shrine. The gardens are themed around Ise-jingu Shrine with a forest representing the inner shrine and a shrine representing the outer shrine, which enshrine Amaterasu Omikami and Toyouke-no Omikami respectively. There is also a Shinto style dry landscape garden with a worship stone within the main garden.

The garden to the west of the hojo known as 'Tokiwa-no-niwa' (The Garden of Tokiwa) was created at the time of the temple's founding by Yoshiharu HORIO (originally an attached garden named 'Tsuru-Kame-no Niwa' (Garden of a Crane and Turtle)) and the area around the stone turtle structure retains the look of this time in the temple's history. The garden is connected through the adjacent garden to the teahouse named 'Raiya-ken' built in 1848 at the will of Shuza (the leader of priests), who was a disciple of third Urasenke (a tea school) master SEN no Sotan.

The hojo exemplifies the guest hall style architecture after mid-late Edo period.

The hojo's sliding door panel images painted on gold leaf are the work of Eigaku of the Kyoto Kano school and depict 'Kinki Shoga-zu' (the four accomplishments of music, chess, painting and writing) in the eastern room; 'the moon and geese' in the central room; 'flowers and birds' in the western room; and 'JIANG Ziya' in the inner room of the western room.

The large drawing room at the back of the hojo was a bedchamber at Yodo Castle that was relocated to the temple and reflects a Momoyama period architectural style using logs which are not sawed up in nageshi (a horizontal piece of timber) and ceiling.

The azaleas planted in the front garden by Daisetsu SUZUKI of Zen philosopher come into bloom in early summer.

Cultural Properties
Important Cultural Properties
Bronze bell (The Bronze Bell of Nanbanji): The bell to the east of the hojo is known as 'The Bell of Nanbanji' and was once used at a Christian church. The bell has been casted Jesuit crests consisting of the letters IHS (monogram derived from the Greek word for 'Jesus') within a sun motif all round it and the Arabic numerals of the Gregorian date 1577 on a side.

Color painting on silk Tobo Saku Datto-zu (Dongfang Shuo depriving peaches)

Tourist Information
Visitors are required to book in advance.

Applications can be made by telephone or fax on (075) 462-5488.

Tours and Zen meditation classes are also available in English.

[Original Japanese]