Rokuo-in Temple Garden

  • AddressSagakitabori-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City
  • Style

    Flat dry landscape garden

  • Outline of garden

    Address : Sagakitabori-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City

    Telephone : +81-(0)75-861-1645

    Period of garden construction : The middle of Edo period (reconstructed)

    Garden style : Flat dry landscape garden

    Designations and registrations : Municipally designated place of scenic beauty (Kyoto city)

    Site area : About 1,895 m2 (designated area of cultural property)

    Public openness : Open (Admission fee)

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    Rokuo-in Temple, located in the Arashiyama area of western Kyoto, belongs to the Rinzai Shu (sect). In 1379, the 3rd Shogun of the Muromachi period, ASHIKAGA Yoshimitsu, commanded his chief priest Fumyo Kokushi to construct the old Hodo-ji Temple in order to pray for longevity. The Rokuo-in Temple was built in there as Kaisanto (a commemorative sub-temple and the pagoda of the founder Fumyo Kokushi). It is said that the name Rokuo, which means the king of deer, came from a group of wild deer that appeared in the area when the temple was under construction and also from Rokuyaon known as Sarnath ('deer park') where was the first taught place of Bhudda in northern India. The entire garden was designated a Place of Scenic Beauty of Kyoto city in 1987.

    The Hodo-ji Temple was formerly a prosperous Zen temple with a high status in Kyoto; however, it was destroyed by fire during the Onin War (1467-1477). After the war, only the Rokuo-in Temple was reconstructed.

    Photo-1. Main gate of Rokuo-in Temple.jpg

    Photo-1. Main gate of Rokuo-in Temple

    Photo-2. A line of stone path at the main gate.jpg

    Photo-2. A line of stone path at the main gate

    The garden of the Rokuo-in Temple is thought to have been created at the beginning of the construction of the temple or soon after. The garden's architect is said to have been a priest called Nin'anshu, about the life of whom virtually nothing is known. Following the reconstruction of the Rokuo-in Temple, the buildings were again damaged by the Fushimi earthquake in 1596, although, fortunately, the garden retained its scenery as written in various old records.

    During the Edo period, the Kaisanto main hall of the temple were again reconstructed in 1676. The garden also seemed to be repaired and recreated into a new landscape approach "Teioku-ichinyo" harmony between building architecture and landscape design which was different from the style of the Muromachi period (1333-1568).

    In 1763, the Shariden hall (reliquary hall) was built at the south side of the Kyakuden guest hall and a corridor was constructed to connect them, which meant the garden could now be viewed from both halls and the Kaisanto. Based on an old painting, it is presumed there were some stones installed and trees planted around the Shari-den hall, while a flat stone for worship was placed in front of the guest hall, thus indicating that walks were probably also enjoyed in the garden.

    Photo-3. Stone-paved corridor connecting between Shariden hall and Kyakuden hall.jpg

    Photo-3. Stone-paved corridor connecting between Shariden hall and Kyakuden hall

    Photo-4. Shariden hall and front garden.jpg

    Photo-4. Shariden hall and front garden

    Although the Rokuo-in Temple declined in the Meiji period, its guest hall was nevertheless rebuilt in 1890, and a dry landscape garden was newly created at the north of the guest hall by a priest, Gazan, prior to undergoing repair in 1936. The garden currently has a dry gravel stream in the center surrounded by stone lanterns, stepping stones, and planted maple trees.

    The Shariden hall garden is flat with no mound and pond. A deep scene consisting of building roofs, a canopy of trees, and Mt. Arashiyama in the background can be seen from the guest hall. The ground is covered by white sand and moss, with standing and lying stones plus evergreen trees, such as Japanese ternstroemia and holly trees, and trimmed shrubs planted closely. The green moss carpet and colorful trees - Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia) with white flowers in the summer and maple trees with red leaves in the fall - combine to create a contrasting scenery to be enjoyed.

    Photo-5. Garden path with various trees of flat garden.jpg

    Photo-5. Garden path with various trees of flat garden

    Photo-6. Roof-attached zigzag corridor and evergreen trees.jpg

    Photo-6. Roof-attached zigzag corridor and evergreen trees

    The long stone path leading from the main gate is lined with bamboo, maple trees, and camellias. Old maki trees (Podocarpus macrophyllus), Japanese red pine trees (Pinus densiflora), and kagonoki (Litsea coreana) also grow in the precincts of the temple.

    Photo-7. Camelia trees planted along long stone path.jpg

    Photo-7. Camelia trees planted along long stone path

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