GUIDE 1:Somon 2:Chokushimon 3:Tenkaikyo 4:Sanmonsoseki 5:Gyokuryuin 6:Kogenin 7:Rinkoin 8:Fukoin 9:Yogenin 10:Butsudenato 11:Daitsuin 12:Bentensya 13:Koonro 14:Sotaninariyashiro 15:Zuisyunin 16:Kyozo 17:Gomizunooteihatsushizuka 18:Hatto 19:Chinju 20:Tenkyouro 21:Yokushitsu 22:Hojo 23:Daikomyoji 24:Chotokuin 25:Kuri Kojakuin 26:Jotenkaku museum 27:Hokoji 28:Kaizandoteien 29:Shinnyoji 30:Jisyoin 31:Jiunin 32:Hounensui GUIDE
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01 総門 Somon


Lined up alongside the main gate of Shokoku-ji is the Choku-mon, the imperial envoy gate. Whereas the main gate was made for everyday use, the imperial envoy gate was meant to be opened only on special occasions. It was first built in the area of Muromachi-dori and Ichijo-dori. It was rebuilt in the third month of Bunsho 1 (1466), and during the ten following days, Yoshimasa passed through the gate for the first time. After this, there were many losses due to fire (such as the Great Tenmei Fire) and subsequent rebuildings; the current building having been completed in 1797 by the 113th high priest Baiso. In 2007, it was designated a Tangible Cultural Property by the Kyoto prefectural government.

02 勅使門 Chokushimon


There are many Zen temples with main gates in front and another gate alongside it. This imperial envoy gate is one such example, west of the main gate. Whereas the main gate is used for everyday passage, the imperial envoy gate is normally closed and used only for imperial visits.

03 天界橋 Tenkaikyo


This is a bridge over the Houjou Ike pond. The name “Tenkai” refers to the fact that it served as a dividing line between the temple and the Imperial Palace. The Tenbun Rebellion of Tenbun 20 (1551), in which Shokoku-ji burned down, began on this bridge. It is still made of its original materials.



Though several cornerstones are still left in the ruins of Sanmon, it has not been rebuilt since the Great Fire of Tenmei 8 (1788).

04 三門礎石 Sanmonsoseki
05 玉龍院 Gyokuryuin


Gyokuryu-in was founded by the fifth high priest of Shokoku-ji, Unkei. Unkei was the disciple of the fourth high priest, Taisei, and they were both of the lineage of the Zen teacher Sesson Yubai. In order to invite Sesson Yubai’s heir, Taisei So’i (Shokoku-ji’s fourth chief priest) to Shokoku-ji, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu built it as a meditation space for him.

06 光源院 Kogenin


Kogen-in, the pagoda of the 28th high priest Gen’yo of Shokoku-ji, was built in Oei 24 (1421) and known as Kotoku-ken. The head monk received dharma transmission from Master Fumyou the second, and he joined the temple on the 12th day of the eighth month of the same year. He passed away on the 27th day of the third month in Oei 32 (1425). In Eiroku 8 (1565), Ashikaga Yoshiteru passed away, and the Kotoku-ken — being his family temple — was renamed to Kogen-in in his honor.

07 林光院 Rinkoin


Rinko-in was established after the early death of Ashikaga Yoshitsugu (also known formally as Rinko), second child of the third Ashikaga shogun Yoshimitsu and younger brother of the fourth Ashikaga shogun Yoshimochi, at the age of 25 in the first month of Oei 25 (1418). The temple was founded to pray for his happiness in the next world, and a shrine dedicated to Muso Soseki was transferred here. It was built on the former residence of the poet Ki Tsurayuki in Kyoto’s Nijo Nishi-no-Kyo.

08 普廣院 Fukoin


Originally known as Kentoku-in. Seishin Enchi (also known as Kanchu), ninth head priest of Shokoku-ji, who received dharma transmission from Muso Soseki, received this building as a place of practice following Ashikaga Yoshimitsu’s profound conversion and withdrawal to religious life. In Kakitsu 1 (1441), the sixth Ashikaga shogun, Yoshinori, passed away and was given the name Fuko. His mortuary tablet was kept in this hall, and so in his honor, it was named Fuko-in.



The founder of this hall was named Donchu Dobo. Since a young age, Master Juko (Kukoku Myo’o) visited to burn incense for the chief priest, Master Kukoku, and also participated as a student in a Zen retreat. He eventually received his dharma transmission, though he had little interest in practice outside of seated meditation, and thus wore the black robes for his whole life. He was particularly skilled in literary arts, and was well-liked by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu his son Yoshimochi. Eventually, they provided the Yogen-ken for Shokoku-ji’s Jotoku-in, and their abdication to the priesthood marked the beginning of Yogen-in.

09 養源院 Yogenin
10 仏殿跡 Butsudenato


This hall has not been rebuilt since it burned down in the Ishibashi Rebellion in Tenbun 20 (1551). Presently, only the cornerstone remains.



Daitsu-in was built in the original town of Fushimi, on the grounds of Daikomyo-ji (presently the Shokoku-ji pagoda), as a temple for the originator of the Fushimi family, Prince Fushimi-no-Miya Yoshihito. In Oei 23 (1416), after Prince Yoshihito’s death, the hall was built on the Daikomyo-ji grounds and named Daitsu-in after his posthumous title of Daitsu. The founder of this hall was Muso Soseki.

11 大通院 Daitsuin
12 弁天社 Bentensya


The Founder’s Hall is located in the southwest. On the southern side, there is a small shrine with Kasuga-zukuri style pantile shingling, where a Benzaiten (Skt. Sarasvati) is enshrined.

13 洪音楼 Koonro


This belfry has received the nickname “Ko’onro,” meaning ‘Tower of Flooding Sound.’ The original belfry burned down in the Great Tenmei fire. In the fourth month of Kansei 1 (1789), a bell was bought and placed in a temporary belfry, leading to the construction of the current building in Tenpo 14 (1843). It is also known as the ‘Hakama-wearing belfry,’ and is currently well-known for its grand size.

14 宗旦稲荷社 Sotaninariyashiro


The god Sotan Inari is enshrined north of the belfry. It is said that the fox spirit known as Sotan-Gitsune appeared here. Around the beginning of the Edo period, a white fox lived on the Shokoku-ji grounds. This fox would occasionally transform into the appearance of a master tea ceremonialist, Sen Sotan (1578-1658). The fox would mingle and meditate with itinerant priests, sometimes playing Go with the temple’s master.



On the northern side of the old imperial palace in Kyoto, within Shokoku-ji, is a hall known as Zuishun-in, which originated as the Uncho-in, created by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu as a hall for Sesson Yubai’s successor, Taisei So’i (who would become the fourth chief priest of Shokoku-ji), to meditate in when he came to the temple. Uncho-in later burned down during a war and was combined with Zuishun-ken. Zuishun-ken was built by authority of the monk Kisen Shusho, compiler of Inryo-ken’s records, during the Bunmei era (1484). Three years later, it burned down at the outset of the Tenmei era.

15 瑞春院 Zuisyunin


The kyozo, or the sutra repository, was built in Man’en 1 (1860) on the former site of a two-storied pagoda that had burned down in the Great Tenmei Fire. The kyozo was contributed by 120th head priest Master Eichu, who, when given the opportunity to restore the building, decided to give it an additional functionality as a repository.

16 経蔵 Kyozo
17 後水尾帝髪歯塚 Gomizunooteihatsushizuka


In Sho’o 2 (1653), Emperor Go-Mizunoo rebuilt a large tower that had burned down and put the hair and teeth from his tonsure inside one of the primary pillars. However, in Tenmei 8 (1788), during the Great Tenmei Fire, the building burned. Thus, this site is known as Hatsushitsuka, or “Hair and Teeth Mound.”

18 法堂 Hatto


The lecture hall, with contributions made in Keicho 10 (1605) by Toyotomi Hideyori, has been rebuilt five times, and is the oldest Buddhist lecture hall in Japan. 28.72 meters in the front and 22.80 meters on the side, it is a truly grand building.

19 鎮守 Chinju


At the time of its founding, the temple was located on the north of Imadegawa street, and it is said that the current Goshohachiman ward is built on its ruins. When Yoshimitsu welcomed the goshintai (object of worship) from Otokoyama Hachiman, the road from Otokoyama Hachiman to the temple was entirely covered in a white cloth.



Tenkyōrō (Heaven’s Sound Tower) is a new bell tower constructed in the summer of Heisei 22 (2011) for the celebration ceremony for the completion of the temple’s reconstruction. The bell is on of a set of two cast by China’s Daxiangguo Temple, one of which was contributed to this temple as a memorial of the flourishing of the Buddha’s Law in Japan and China and friendship between the two temples. They are engraved with the phrase “Friendship Memorial Bell” and the text of the Heart Sutra.

20 天響楼 Tenkyouro
21 浴室 Yokushitsu


The bathing quarters of Shōkokuji Temple are called “Senmyō” (“Clear Declaration”) and are believed to have been built around the year 1400. The current facilities were rebuilt in the first year of the Keichō era (1596), and then restored to their original condition in June of Heisei 14 (2002).  The bathing quarters take their name from a drawing of a bath called “Tendōzan Senmyōsama” (“Senmyō of Tiantong Temple”) from a collection of drawings Zen buildings drawn in the Song era called “Taitōgzanshodōzu” (“Illustrations of the Temples of the Five Tang Mountains”).

22 方丈 Hojo


A distinctive feature of Zen temple complexes is that the main gate, temple, lecture hall, and abbot’s chambers are constructed along a single axis from south to north. Shōkokuji Temple is no exception, with the abbot’s chambers built on the north side of the lecture hall. The abbot’s chambers of Shōkokuji Temple have been burned down several times since their original construction. The current building was rebuilt following the Great Tenmei Fire in the 4th year of the Bunka Era (1807), together with the main gate hall and temple kitchen. Its structure combines a hip-and-gable roof, tiled roof, and gable. With a crossbeam length of 25m and a beam length of 16m, it is a large scale structure for an abbot’s chambers. As such, in Heisei 19 (2007), it was designated a Tangible Cultural Property by Kyoto Prefecture.



Daikōmyōji Temple was constructed before Shōkokuji Temple. In the second year of the Ryakuō era (1339), Kōgimonin Saionji Yasuko, the wife of the Emperor Gofushimite (1288-1336), began constructing a temple nearby the Fushimi Imperial Villa to mourn the death of her husband. The temple was named Daikōmyōji Temple, after the empress’s posthumous Buddhist name.

23 大光明寺 Daikomyoji
24 長得院 Chotokuin


The meditation room and sub temple of Shōkokuji’s 19th abbot, Busui Seizoku Kokushi Gakuin Osho, are present and were originally called “Daidōin.” He continued the work and lineage of Chūshin Zekkai. In the Shitoku​ period (1384-87), he traveled through the Min Kingdom, participating in the history of several famous mountain dwellings for 10 years. Upon his return, he succeeded to the Zekkai Dharma lineage and spent time at Tōjiin Temple. In the 17th year of the Ōei era (1410), he joined Shōkokuji (19th abbot)

25 庫裏 「香積院」 Kuri Kojakuin

庫裏 「香積院」Kuri Kojakuin

The Zen temple’s kitchen has many gables. The entrance is on the gabled side. Its large gables and walls are particularly striking.


承天閣美術館Jotenkaku museum

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26 承天閣美術館 Jotenkaku museum
27 豊光寺 Hokoji


After the death of Hideyoshi Toyotomi in August of the third year of the Keichō era (1598), the 92nd abbot of Shōkokuji, Oshō Saishō Shōtai, constructed Hōkōji Temple for Toyotomi’s death anniversary services.
He joined Shōkokuji on February 19th of the 20th year of the Tenshō era (1584). In July of the 20th year of the Keichō era (1607), Ieyasu Tokugawa visited Hōkōji, but Oshō Saishō passed away on December 27th of that year. After this, Hōkōji was destined to fall into disrepair before being burned in the Great Tenmei Fire of the eighth year of the Tenmei Era (1788).

28 開山堂庭園 Kaizandoteien


As the name Founder’s hall suggests, it enshrines a wooden image of temple founder Teacher of the Nation Musō. It is to the east of the lecture hall and the most precious location on the grounds. In the first year of the Ōnin era (1467), it was burned by soldiers during the Ōnin War. In the sixth year of the Kanbun era (1666), Emperor Gomizunō reconstructed it for Imperial prince of Katsura No Miya and third generation Imperial prince Yasuhito, but in the eighth year of the Tenmei era (1788), it was once again burned down in the Great Tenmei Fire. In the last years of the Edo period, Monin Kyōrai, wife of Emperor Momozono, donated the grounds of the Kurogoden (the Black Palace) and the building was relocated there in the fourth year of the Bunka era (1807).

29 眞如寺 Shinnyoji


In the Kamakura period, as the elder nun of Keiaiji Temple (one of the Five Mountain Nunneries of Kyoto) Muchaku Nyodai Oshō was nearing the end of her life, she created a cemetery at the foot of Mt. Kinugasa to enshrine the remains of her Dharma teacher and founder of Kamakura’s Engakuji Temple, Bukkō Kokushi (Zen Master Sogen Mugaku). The cemetery was named Shōmyakuan, and she protected it until the end of her life.



Around the 12th year of the Ōei era (1405), the resident Zen master (13th abbot of the Shōkokuji Head Temple) began constructing a temple complex called “Daitokuin.” In the end year of the Entoku era (1490) it became the resting place of Yoshimasa Ashikaga and was renamed “Jishōin” by imperial decree.

30 慈照院 Jisyoin
31 慈雲院 Jiunin


Built in the Chōroku era (1457-59), the main object of worship is Shakyamuni Buddha.
The founder was the 42nd abbot of Shōkokuji Temple, Zen master Kōshūmeikyō Chokushi (Oshō Zuikeishūhō). The master was also a great scholar of Confucianism and prolific author who combined reverence for the emperor with faith in the shogunate.

32 法然水 Hounensui


Before the establishment of Shōkokuji Temple, Pure Land school founder Hōnen​ Sh​ōnin (St. Hōnen​) revered the god Kamo Myōjin while living at Jingūji Temple on the Kudokuin Temple complex. Due to this, he made a pilgrimage to Kamo Shrine. Seeing the beautiful, clear waters of the garden lake of this combined shrine and temple, Hōnen​ Sh​ōnin composed a song for himself about that complete clarity.
Shōkokuji Temple was later constructed on the remains of that combined shrine and temple. The lake is now a well known as the place where Sh​ōnin drew the “Akasui” (“Waters of the Buddha”). There is a memorial monument and the town to the north gate is known as “Hōnensui” (“Waters of Hōnen”).