before the gate
An Important Temple with a Connection to the Birth of the Capital - Shoren-in Monzeki
A Buddhist temple with a deep relationship to the imperial household.
Shoren-in Monzeki was founded as a place for the monks of Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hie to reside and the structures on the current site date from 1150.
The position of chief priest at this important place of worship was passed down though monks with lineage connected to the imperial family and Shoren-in began to be refereed to as a Monzeki temple. Monzeki are temples formerly led by the founder of a sect or temples where members of nobility or the imperial family reside.
The grand camphor trees that tower over the temple entrance are thought to be approximately 800 years old. There are also three other similar camphor trees on the grounds that have watched over Shoren-in Monseki for centuries. Inside of the buildings, each room is a treat for the eyes and the vivid and dynamic paintings of sacred lotuses are sure to delight visitors.
An impressive garden from any angle.
Shoren-in Monzeki takes advantage of its location at the base of Mt. Awata by making use of the mountain as a backdrop to the garden's stunning landscapes. In early May the blossoming Kirishima Azaleas alight the sloped terrain in a vivid red.
Located in the center of the garden's pond is a large stone which almost looks as though it is the back of a dragon bathing in the waters. Guests visiting the temple buildings are treated to elegant views of the garden from a variety of angles. As is characteristic of a temple with such a history, a certain refined beauty seems to flow from it's environs.
Command a view of the entire city from Shogunzuka
Almost 1200 years ago, when the he looked out over the land that would become Kyoto from this location, the Emperor Kammu was inspired to relocate his capital and so the long history of Kyoto began. Today, the panoramas of the city viewed from the large wooden stage that currently stands at this spot are breathtaking, with the setting sun over Kyoto being the most beautiful of them.
Shogunzuka is also home to the Seiryuden, where a painting named Ao Fudō Myō-ō with Two Attendants, a Buddhist image often reffered to as "Ao Fudō" (ao meaning blue), is housed. Dating from the middle of the 11th century this painting has been designated a National Treasure.
The powerful image of the blue Fudō Myō-ō surrounded by flames is delicately rendered on silk. While the real work is stored carefully to protect it, a precise replica is on display. Even though it is only a reproduction one can still feel the impressiveness and intensity of the image of Fudō Myō-ō.
The skills of artists protecting tradition.
Shoren-in Monzeki views it as their duty to protect their historic and traditional structures and gardens while also integrating artworks from every era and preserving them for future generations as well.
What is most important in this mission is to protect the techniques of the artists. They believe that as civilization progresses and easy and inexpensive substitutes may become more readily available, there is still nothing that can replace human skill accumulated over many years.
Please experience the history as well as the artistic techniques that have been protected with as much devotion as the buildings when you visit Shoren-in Monzeki.
Opening Hours: 6:00~17:00 (Entrance closes at 16:30)
69-1 Sanjobo-cho, Awataguchi, Higashiyama-ku, KyotoView in Google Maps
Nearest Station: Kyoto Subway Tozai Line - Higashiyama Station (5 minute walk away)
Nearest Bus Stop: Kyoto City Bus - Jingu-michi (3 minute walk away)
Entrance Fee: 500 yen for adults, 400 yen for middle and highschoolers, and 200 yen for elementary school students.