Jan. 04, 2023 UPDATE
Shisen-do (Jozan-ji Temple)- 詩仙堂 -
Brochures available in English
Japanese and English
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Story & Recommendation
An architectural and landscape masterpiece with a bamboo forest entrance
Shisen-do was established in 1671 by Jozan Ishikawa, a scholar and a landscape architect born to a samurai family. He was 59 years old when he constructed Shisen-do as his hermitage. Many people visit here during May to see the blooming azalea flowers or the foliage during autumn. Unlike other temples, the entrance is gated with bamboo which are blended in with the surrounding greenery. Look out for the gate opening to a stone staircase leading up to the garden and main building. When at the main building, take off your shoes and approach the counter to pay the entrance fee. Once entering the main building, there will be a beautifully maintained Zen garden.
Beautiful Zen Garden
Peace and calm are what this Zen garden emits. Listen carefully for the sounds of sozu, a bamboo tube that makes a sound as it automatically empties the streaming water. A calm sensation flows through Shisen-do, especially in a quiet early morning. The garden has a soft visual that can be observed from zangetsuken, a room with tatami floor where visitors can sit down and just enjoy the scenery.
Another unique part of Shisen-do is the old Japanese kitchen area. Look for it right next to the space where shoes are taken off at the entrance. Currently not in use, but it is incredible to look at the structure of the kamado oven, once used as a significant tool of people’s everyday lifestyle. Make sure to take off the shoes before walking on the wooden decks.
Walk Out To The Garden
After going through the main building, put your shoes on and walk out to the garden following this narrow path. If you have trouble locating it, ask the staff before walking out. Follow the sound of sozu mentioned in the “Must See – Beautiful Zen Garden” section above.
Walk on the Stone Bridge
Look for the stone bridge when out in the garden. Because the founder was a landscape architect, the premises of Shisen-do are full of architectural discoveries. Since 1716, Buddhist priests have been taken ownership of Shisen-do, and since 1743, it has been assigned to Zen Buddhists leading to its current form.
- Manner & Tips -
Please do not walk on wooden decks with your shoes on. Also be careful not to step into any prohibited areas.