Junsei Shoin（literally “Junsei Study Hall”) was originally a medical school established in 1839 by Shingu Ryotei, a famous doctor schooled in Western learning. It was built next to Nanzen-ji Temple and its elegant architecture and garden were made famous by the Pictorial Guide to Kyoto’s Places of Scenic Beauty (Karaku meisho zue), a guidebook to the Higashiyama area written in 1864.
It originally had many fruit trees and a large herb garden where precious medical herbs were planted. This property was said to be in ruins when it was purchased in 1946 by Ueda Tan’ichiro, the head of a textile fabric company. The garden was then repaired, with stone works such as stone lanterns, old temple stones, and pagodas being newly added. A stream from the Lake Biwa Canal was irrigated into the south and east sides of the pond in the shape of the Chinese character for “heart” (kokoro) on the southeast side of the garden, with bridges being erected over each resulting stream. The water flows from the “heart”-shaped pond across the front of the Rengetsu-tei (“Lotus Moon Pavilion”) on the garden’s northeast side and finally into the garden pond to the northwest. The current simmered tofu restaurant dates to 1962. Not only do the entrance garden and front garden appear to have been left largely unchanged since the time they were depicted in the “Pictorial Guide to Kyoto’s Places of Scenic Beauty,” but there is also a stone gate by the entrance to the tea garden that recalls the days when there was a medical school that, along with the study hall, is a Registered National Tangible Cultural Property.
Location: Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Garden construction period: in Edo period
Nanzen-ji Junsei website
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