Date: 19th November, 2017
I previously wrote about my visits to Raigō-in and Shōrin-in, some of the less visited temples in Ohara, Kyoto. So here is the second temple I visited in Ohara after Sanzenin – Jikko-in of the Tendai sect. of Buddhism.
Jikko-in (実光院) is actually a monastery of nearby Shorin-in, which used to be the main hall of one of the sub-temples of Gyozan Taigenji. Jikko-in was moved to the present location in 1919 from its original location near the Ohara Mausoleum, where the tombs of Emperor Go-Toba and Juntoku are.
The building on the left that you will first see upon entering the temple is the Kyakuden (Guest Hall) which was reconstructed in 1921. The main principle of worship in Jikko-in is the Jizo trinity, a seated Jizo bosatsu (protector of children) with Bishamonten (Vaiśravaṇa) on the right and Fudo-myo-o (Acala) on the left.
The ramma (the decorations on the lintel) of the Kyakuden features poems and portraits of the 36 Chinese poets painted by the Kano school of painting during the Edo period. There are also ancient musical instruments on display here at the tokonoma (aclove) in the hall, a collection of the resident priests of Jikko-in, previously used for the development of shomyo, the Japanese Buddhist chanthing.
The admission fee includes a set of matcha (green tea) and wagashi (Japanese sweets), thus guests can enjoy a relaxing time here while admiring the west garden with a borrowed scenery of Mount Konpira and Mount Koshio, and the garden, Keishin-en from the hall. The weather was great for garden viewing, and the hot tea was just perfect for the chilly autumn.
Keishin-en is a pond and waterfall viewing garden which was designed in the late Edo period. Drawing its water from the Ritsu river, a small waterfall goes down the pond, Shinji-ike which is of the shape of 心, the kanji for kokoro (heart). Near the waterfall is Horai Ishigumi, an arrangement of rocks representing the legendary Horai or Mount Penglai, the base of the Eight Immortals in Chinese mythology.
Further up is an artificial hill (tsukiyama), with a pine tree and a five-storied pagoda, the pine tree depicting the crane. The island in the pond on the other hand depicts the tortoise. Both cranes and tortoises are symbols of longevity and happiness in Japan.
The garden on the west side of the temple features a gourd-shaped pond with an arrangement of rocks found in the mountains of Jikko-in. Guests are allowed to take a stroll in this garden. Jikko-in is not very crowded, so it was easy to take pictures.
Here you will see the rare cherry blossom, fudan zakura which blooms from late September and lasting into spring. Though the flowers were not really in full bloom, seeing both sakura and autumn leaves at the same time is always great!
Opening hours: 09:00 – 16:30, Closed on 1st January
Admission fee: 700 yen (with matcha and wagashi, Japanese sweets)
Take Kyoto Bus no 16 or 17 to Ohara Bus Station (about 50 minutes from Central Kyoto), from there it is a 10-15 minutes walk. Jikkoin is somewhat sandwiched between Sanzenin and Shōrin-in (both about 1-2 minutes away), so it is not easy to miss this temple.