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Hogon-in Temple: One of the most stunning gardens in Kyoto

2 Comments
By Abhijit Sen

Hogon-in Temple in Arashiyama, is arguably the most impressive garden that tourists visiting the area must see. It is a Buddhist sub-temple of the Rinzai Zen head temple, Tenryu-ji.

The temple was founded in 1461 and was initially constructed in the Kamigyo-ku district of Kyoto, which is now the center of the city. Zen Master Seichu Eiko was the first abbot of the temple. It underwent significant destruction during the Onin War. However, the temple was eventually reconstructed and relocated to its current site in Arashiyama, adjacent to the Tenryu-ji temple, during the Meiji period.

The Lion’s Roar Garden at this temple is a remarkable sight to behold. This classic strolling pond garden is renowned for its ability to blend in with its surroundings seamlessly. It was designed by Sakugen Shuryo, a Japanese Zen master and diplomat who visited Ming-dynasty China twice before creating this garden.

A Garden with Precise Details

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Borrowed scenery Image: Abhijit Sen

The garden has some unique features, such as “Borrowed Scenery.” It skillfully utilizes the background scenery of Mount Arashiyama to add depth to the garden. Near the entrance, there is a dry pond that represents the ‘sea of suffering’ of human life. Additionally, there is a dry-stone construct that represents the Dragon Gate Falls on the upper Yellow River in China. Legend has it that a carp that can jump these falls will transform into a dragon, which has become a symbol for a person attaining enlightenment and becoming a Buddha. Lastly, the garden features the Lion Rock and the Blue Rock.

At the entrance of Hogon-in, there’s a statue called Arashiyama Rakans. It represents the desire of Hogon-in for world peace and the spiritual freedom of all living beings. The temple’s main hall features a central Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva, surrounded by thirty-three smaller attendant Kannon images.

Unforgettable Foliage

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Don’t miss out on seasonal events. Image: PIXTA/shonen

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2 Comments
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We have visited the Hogon-in temple several times during the red leaf season. Stunning mature garden.

Every Japanese-style garden is similar but also different and unique each with its features.

I don't know if I would call the Hogon-in gardens the most stunning in Kyoto but worth a visit. The problem is the size of the crowds in both autumn and spring. Like going to a baseball game.

Nearby is the Fukuda Art Museum and worth a visit.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's strange to single out a garden in Kyoto as "One of the most stunning".

All proper Japanese gardens are stunning and all share the same or similar characteristics and design principles (禅)

there is a dry pond that represents the ‘sea of suffering’ of human life. Additionally, there is a dry-stone construct that represents the Dragon Gate Falls on the upper Yellow River in China. Legend has it that a carp that can jump these falls will transform into a dragon, which has become a symbol for a person attaining enlightenment and becoming a Buddha. Lastly, the garden features the Lion Rock and the Blue Rock.

At the entrance of Hogon-in, there’s a statue called Arashiyama Rakans. It represents the desire of Hogon-in for world peace and the spiritual freedom of all living beings.

Maybe "one of the more esoteric gardens" would be a better title.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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