Rokuouin Temple (鹿王院)

Although not far from Arashiyama, where so many tourists visit, Rokuouin is a quiet temple where you will rarely see foreign tourists.

Entrance gate

The gate to enter the temple is a gabled gate with a tile roof. It is the only Zen temple gate with a main pillar rising to the ridge. The gate was built in 1379, the year of the temple’s foundation. It is the second oldest medieval-style structure in Japan after the Kenninji temple gate. You see a three-character inscription on the gate. It was handwritten by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the founder of the temple.

Rokuouin gate

Rokuouin Garden

The temple garden is a flat garden style karesansui moss garden with Arashiyama in the background. The garden extends to the east of the Shariden Hall. And Kyoto City registers it as a place of scenic beauty under the name of “Rokuouin Garden”. This garden is from around 1763 in the middle of the Edo period.

The garden has a stone arrangement centering on Sanzon-ishi and Zazen-ishi. The mokkoku tree, which is over 300 years old, has the appearance of an ancient tree. To the south of the garden, there is a sarasouju tree. According to legend, the sarasouju blossomed all at once at the bedside of Buddha at the time of his death. In “The Tale of the Heike” its flower is the symbol of truth of Buddhism, namely, the impermanence of all things.

However, the tree called “sarasouju” in Japan (Stewartia pseudocamellia) is a different species from the Indian sal tree (Shorea robusta).

Shariden hall

The Shariden is located in the center of the main garden. On the central platform in the inner sanctuary, the “Buddha’s Tooth Relic” is enshrined. The four heavenly kings of Buddhist Dharma protect are all four sides. On the ceiling there is a dragon. The dragon brings rain of Dharma (Buddha’s teachings).

Minamoto no Sanetomo, the third shogun of Kamakura, brought this Buddhist tusk reliquary from Song Dynasty China to Kamakura. Later, Emperor Go-Kogon had a part of it presented to Kyoto. In 1374, it came to Sokuouin.

Shariden of Rokuouin

Temple’s official WEB site

Nearby spots from Rokuouin Temple

A world Heritage Site, famous Tenryuji Temple is not far. If you do not mind the crowdedness there, the garden there is worth visiting.