Daisen-in was founded in 1509 (Eisho 6) by the first chief priest Kogaku Soko Zenji
(Zenji means a Zen master).
Kogaku Soko was granted the title busshin Seito Zenji in 1522 (Daiei 2) by Emperor Go-Shirakawa, and was also granted the title Shobo Daisho Kokushi in 1536 (Tenmon 5) by Emperor Go-Nara.
at Daisen-in among the early successors to the founder Kogaku Soko were great priests such as Dairin Soto, Shorei Sokin, Shun-oku Soen, Kokei Sochin.
It is well known that Sen-no-Rikyu (1522-1591), the Father of Tea Ceremony, frequently worshipped at Daisen-in. Sen-no-Rikyu and other historical tea masters revered the priests at Daisen-in and had close association with them.
at Daisen-in there are highly evaluated precious cultural properties such as the garden which is considered one of the very best of the Kare-sansui (dry landscape) style from the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the Hojo structure (priest’s living and meditation practice quarters) and the Fusuma-e (sliding door paintings). Fusuma paintings were done by great masters of the period such as Soami, Motonobu Kano and Yukinobu Kano. these typically Muromachi paintings continue to preserve and provide the traditional Muromachi era atmosphere to the chambers.
Hojo (priest’s living and meditation practice quarters)
the main part of the temple structure surrounded by the garden is the Hojo. this is a designated National treasure. It contains the oldest extant Genkan (entrance hall) and Tokonoma (alcove) in Japan. the Genkan on its own is also a designated National treasure. One of some other historical features of the temple is the corridors laid to squeak when walked across. the noise is deliberate as a security measure and this type of historical corridor flooring is called Uguisu-bari (sometimes called Nightingale flooring in English). Some prominent Zen and Tea Ceremony masters, and Samurai lords in the history of Japan walked on the exact same corridors which still squeak today after 500 years of use.
Kare-sansui Garden (dry landscape garden)
the garden built by the founder Kogaku Soko, a Zen master, is a designated Scenic Site. It is considered one of the finest examples of the Kare-sansui style from the Muromachi period. the whole design and the materials used for the garden expresses the philosophy of Zen in an abstract manner. the waterfalls from Mt. Horai and rivers streaming toward the seas are represented by sand and the lines drawn on the sand. Mountains and some animals such as kame (turtle) and tsuru (crane), symbols of longevity, are represented by arrangements of group of stones. all the stones chosen for the garden are natural and they have stayed in the same exact location for over 500 years.
the Fusuma-e (sliding door paintings) are splendid works of art also from Muromachi period and are designated Important Cultural Properties. they are the Landscape by Soami (?-1525), the Flowers and birds of the Four Seasons by Motonobu Kano (1476-1559) and the Farming Scenes of the Four Seasons by Yukinobu Kano (1513-1575). In the past these Fusuma-e have been exhibited in the Louvre, Paris. Today the skillfully painted replicas from the Meiji period (1868-1912) decorate the temple while the originals are kept at the Kyoto National Museum.
Shoin (a designated Scenic Site as well as a designated Historic Site)
Shoin (a study, a drawing room) is one of the chambers in the priest’s quarters and this is where the Tokonoma (alcove) mentioned earlier is found. this shoin also functioned as Chashitsu (a tea room) where Sen-no-Rikyu and Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), one of the most famous historical figures in the history of Japan, had tea together while enjoying the view of the rock garden. this fact by itself gives a tremendous value to this chamber in addition to its architectural value.
|*One word about Not Taking Photographs*
at daisen-in, please refrain from taking photographs, the garden and entire building, even the entrance hall & the corridors are National treasure.
|Map of Daitokuji Complex
＊卍 in the map represents a subtemple.
|Some photos of the garden and the temple
the ichinomon gate
the visitor entrance hall in autumn
the National treasure entrance hall
|the treasure ship slowly floating
down the river
|Viewing the landscape garden from the hojo
|the upper rock garden with Mt. Horai
|the Shoin named Shuunken.
on the north side of the hojo
|Shara plant in the southwest corner
of the Taikai garden of the hojo
|Hojo front garden called Taikai (Great asa)
|Paintings on the sliding doors
|Landscape paintimg attributed to Soami
|Flowers and birds of the Four Seasons attributed to Motonobu Kano