Chion-ji Temple

Hyakumanben Chion-ji Temple

Location: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Status: open to the public
Landscaped: in 2011

The formal name of the Chion-ji Temple is the Chotokuzan Kudokuin Hyakumanben Chion-ji Temple. Its history started as a Zen Buddhist temple where Honen Shonin taught his doctrine. After he passed away, his successor Genchi Shonin named the temple “Chion-ji” in memory of Honen’s virtue. Then, the Emperor Godaigo ordered to give it a temple name of “Hyakumanben”. It had been relocated several times by the time it stayed the current place in 1662.

In this Chion-ji, a garden was created in the south of Kohojo when it commemorated the 800th anniversary of Honen Shonin’s death. This garden expresses one of Honen’s teachings called “Sanjin-shishu”, which means three minds necessary to recite a prayer and four trainings necessary to go to the paradise.  From the right to the left of Kohojo’s perspective, three minds which are “Shijoshin” (sincere mind), “Jinshin” (profound mind) and “Ekohotsuganshin” (belief in the rebirth of oneself in the paradise) are expressed and garden stones are used to express four trainings, which are Kugyoshu, Muyoshu, Mukenshu and Chojishu.  

In the garden, camellia trees or plants called Japanese silver leaf whose floral languages are related to the “Shijoshin” or “Jinshin” are planted and moss are used to express the ocean whose image is related to “Jinshin” and the stone bridge expresses rotating virtue by “Ekohotsuganshin” so that visitors can feel the three minds more easily. In addition, three stones standing at the far end of the middle of the garden or the left side of the garden are the Buddhist triad stone expressing Amida Nyorai, Kannon Bosatsu and Seishi Bosatsu as well as the founder Honen, the second successor Genchi and the third successor Shine. Thus, the garden is landscaped as an appropriate garden for the head temple of the Jodo sect.