Shosei-en is a garden that belongs to Higashi Hongan-ji Temple, the head temple of the Otani school of Shin Buddhism, but is detached from its main temple grounds. It is also known as Kikoku-tei (or Trifoliate Orange Villa) because it is surrounded by trifoliate orange trees.
Higashi Hongan-ji Temple was founded after Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun* of the Edo period (1603-1868), donated land to it in 1602. Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu later donated additonal land to the temple in 1641. Shosei-en was created on part of this added land when Sennyo, Higashi Hongan-ji Temple’s thirteenth head abbott, retired in 1653.
As the place where acquaintances of the head abbott and even central figures from the Edo government were invited for receptions, Shosei-en enchanted many people. Among the many poets to extol its beauty was Rai Sanyo, a famous scholar of Chinese classics who wrote “A Record of Shosei-en” (Shoseien-ki) in 1827.
Shosei-en is an outstanding Japanese garden whose thirteen scenic highlights and other features pass on Edo period scenery to the current day.
*Starting from the late twelfth century, the Japanese title “shogun” ( or generalissimo) was given to the head of the military branch of Japan’s government. During the Edo period, the shogun was a military ruler whose power extended over the entire country.
Location: Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto
Accessibility: open to the public
Garden construction period: in Edo period
Shosei-en Garden Leaflet
A Study on the Spatial Features of Shosei-en
Shosei-en Garden (Higashi-honganji Temple website)
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