Next to Sanzen-in, Jikkō-in (実光院) is another temple with stunning garden views in Ōhara (大原). While the ground of the gardens of Jikkō-in is covered by moss, the flowers of around 150 different kinds of plants will catch your attention from spring to autumn. In winter, another highlight of Jikkō-in is the cherry tree that blooms in the snow! On top of the gardens, you can also admire the paintings from the Edo period (1603 – 1867) when you visit the temple.
Jikkō-in was built as one of the four sub-temples of Shōrin-in (勝林院) around 1013 by Jyakugen (寂源) from Enryaku-ji Temple in Mt. Hiei. However, due to internal conflicts in Enryaku-ji, Jikkō-in was destroyed alongside Shōrin-in not too long after its construction.
Thanks to the monk named Sōshinhōin (宗信法印), Jikkō-in was revived between 1394 – 1428, where the Mausoleum of Emperors Gotoba and Juntoku (後鳥羽天皇･順徳天皇大原陵) stands.
Why did he want to rebuild the temple around the Emperors’ Mausoleum? Because the temple held a deep connection with the 10th son of Emperor Gotoba, who became the head of the Tendai sect at the time.
Kyakuden Hall (客殿)
But in 1919, the Ministry of the Imperial Household (宮内省) ordered the relocation of Jikkō-in, as the temple was recognized as private property, which shouldn’t be on the ground of the Mausoleum that belonged to the Imperial family. Together with the relocation, Fugen-in (普賢院) and Rikaku-in (理覚院), which didn’t have monks living in the temples anymore, were consolidated into Jikkō-in.
So, the Kyakuden Hall beyond the Sanmon Gate (山門) was only completed in 1921.
Because Jikkō-in is a small temple, staff might not always be at the reception. When there is no one around, you get to ring the gong hanging above the shoe cabinet!
When we say Jikkō-in is small, we mean it is compact. Usually, a temple has a Kyakuden Hall for guests and the main hall to enshrine Buddhas. However, the main image of Jikkō-in, Jizō Bodhisattva (地蔵菩薩), and the paintings of the Thirty-Six Poets (三十六詩仙) drawn in the mid-Edo period are all in the Kyakuden Hall’s Kyaku-ma (客間) room.
The Thirty-Six Poets are the 36 most famous poets from China’s Han, Jin, Tang, and Song Dynasties.
Remember to also check out the traditional musical instruments at the alcove. Those are the chief priest’s collections.
The Kyaku-ma is surrounded by two gardens, a Chisenkanshō-style (池泉鑑賞式) garden that is designed to showcase its water feature and a strolling garden at the west.
Before you take a stroll in the gardens, how about ordering a bowl of matcha green tea and a Japanese sweet to adore the scenery from Kyaku-ma first?
Keishin-en Garden (契心園)
In the south of the Kyaku-ma, the Keishin-en is a garden constructed in the late Edo period that belonged to Fugen-in (普賢院) before the temple was consolidated into Jikkō-in. The pine tree on the artificial mountain represents a crane. The island in the pond is in the shape of a turtle. Both animals are symbols of longevity.
The pond in the middle sources water from the Rissen River (律川). The side that is closer to the Kyakuden Hall represents the human world. Across the river, the artificial mountain symbolizes the Amida Buddha’s Pure Land.
Tip: During the green season, it is hard to see the pine tree representing a crane because of the surrounding foliage. So winter or even fall is probably the best season to examine the garden in detail.
Kyū Rikaku-in Garden (旧理覚院庭園)
The back door of Kyakuden Hall is connected with the Kyū Rikaku-in Garden at the west.
The garden smartly incorporates the distant mountain scenery and integrates its magnificence with the greenery in the garden.
Kyū Rikaku-in Garden was originally a part of Rikaku-in before the three temples were consolidated. Since the consolidation, new features have been gradually added to this garden by the chief priests.
From November to April each year, the most unique thing in the garden is probably the 100-year-old cherry blossom tree named Fudansakura (不断桜). It is a rare variety of cherry tree that blooms from fall to spring each year.
Teahouse Rikaku-an (茶室 理覚庵)
At the far north of Jikkō-in, there is a teahouse. It was built in 1975 using wood logged from the nearby forests.
The Cherry Blossom and the Fall Foliage Season at Jikkō-in
- The cherry trees in the temple usually bloom from early to mid-April
- The fall foliage season peaks from mid to late November
Jikkō-in’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information
- The temple is open from 9 am to 4 pm
- In November, the temple closes late at 4:30 pm
- The required time to explore Jikkō-in is around 20 minutes
- The admission fee, including a bowl of matcha tea and a Japanese sweet, is
- 500 yen for adults
- 300 yen for elementary school students
- 300 yen for a bowl of matcha tea and a sweet only (no admission)
- From Ōhara bus stop (大原), it is around a 10-minute walk
Discover Other Fascinating Attractions in Ōhara
In addition to Jikkō-in, a couple more temples in Ōhara are worth your time.
In our Ōhara article, we have also included a couple of dining options for lunch or dinner and general information about the spiritual village. You will also find a recommended itinerary you can follow for a day in Ōhara!