Enjoy green tea in an over 400 year-old thatched roof building moved to its present location from Eigen-ji.
The main gate is all made from beech and belonged originally to the old Kaya-no-miya Palace in Kyōto. In the Edo period (1600-1867) the gate was part of the Kyōto Imperial Palace, but it got moved during the Meiji time to the east of the Sanjūsangen-dō. It stood then in front of the Kyōto National Museum and was owned after World War II by the Japanese Red Cross.
In 1965, it was decided that the land and buildings of the residence of the Kaya-no-miya collateral branch of the imperial family would be disposed or removed. At that time, Kambara Hideo took over ownership of them (including the gate). While the residence was destroyed by fire and does not exist today, the gate brings to mind the time when the palace was built.
The characters over the gate were written by the Master Kobori Taigan, the superintendent priest of the Kennin-ji sect.
The pagoda imitates the Tahōtō from Ishiyama-dera in Otsu/Shiga Prefecture, a national treasure from the early Kamakura period. It has a graceful symmetrical design. The wheels on the roof that lead to the heavens were designed specifically for the stupa. The jeweled bells that hang from these wheels continually emit wonderful sounds.
The Tahōtō is based on the legend that a huge Shippōtō (pagoda made of seven treasures, including gold, silver and lapis lazuli) appeared in the sky, when Shakyamuni was explaining the Lotus Sutra. Tahō Nyorai (Prabhūtaratna), who lives in the eastern world of the so-called "treasure purity", appraised Shakamuni and offered half of his seat to him. Usually Shakyamuni Buddha and Tahō Nyorai are worshipped in a Tahōtō, but in this pagoda Dainichi Nyorai is enshrined.
This temple was established in memory of Zen master Mori Daikō Jishō, the first priest of Shinshō-ji, who was born in the Aichi Prefecture on April 22nd 1916. At the age of eleven he was ordained by Takeda Eisen Rōshi, at that time the superintendent priest of Kennin-ji, and sent to the Kennin-ji monastery in order to learn the monastic life. He entered after his graduation from college the sōdō (training monastery) of Bairin-ji and became in 1943 the abbot of Reigen-in, a subtemple of Kennin-ji. On behalf of the founder of Shinshō-ji, a close friend since the time at the college, he emigrated in 1956 to Paraguay and worked as the head of the Japanese immigrants there. In 1966 he became the first priest of Shinshō-ji and since then for 41 years he put all his efforts into the edification of the temple congregation and the prosperity of both Shinshō-ji and Reigen-in. In 2007 he became the full-time abbot of Shinshō-ji, and though he was already over nighty years old, he still exerted himself with teaching and missionary activities. He passed away on May 16th 2013 at the age of 98.
The building was originally the old Hondō of Zōroku-an, a temple of the Rinzai sect Eigenji school in Shiga Prefecture. The sitting figure of Daikō Oshō in the temple was sculpted by Ezaki Anju.
The founding patron created this hall in remembrance of his deceased mother on the occasion of the sixteenth anniversary of her death in 1974. It was modeled after the Study Hall of Jikō-in in Yamato-kōriyama, Nara Prefecture.
The temple has a hip and gable roof with pantiled eaves, and it is comprised of an upper, middle, and lower area, each approximately 20 square meters. The upper area features a simple and light design. While it contains flooring and a small study room, the nageshi (decorative wooden beam) has been omitted. Overall the ceilings and lintels are low. It has been designed to encourage peace of mind and relaxation when seated. The view of the garden and mountains from a raised area in the hall is magnificent.
The name of the temple comes from the posthumous name of Kambara Hideo's mother.
Shūro-ken is a tea ceremony room that replicates the Omotesenke school teahouses Zangetsu-tei, Fushin-an and their garden, which were destroyed in the Great Fire of Tenmei (March 7, 1788). It was designed by Nakamura Masao based on ancient design plans.
While after the Great Fire of Tenmei the style of Omotesenke school buildings and gardens changed, Hori-no-uchi Fushikisai had recorded their form in detail before the fire. Furthermore, other documentation of their overall layouts and tea ceremony rooms remain with us today. Shūro-ken could be constructed faithfully based on this extant information.
The name Shūro-ken was given by Takeda Ekijū, the founder of Shinshō-ji and former superintendent priest of the Kennin-ji school. It is based on the name of the founding patron and his wife.
The design is different from that used in the Omotosenke school today in that Fushin-an and the garden stands immediately to the south of Zangetsu-tei. Directly across from the inner resting area is a garden path that leads to Fushin-an, and to the right of the path lies a large rock pound. This was one of the characteristics of old-style teahouse gardens.
Nakane Kinsaku offered his guidance so that this garden style could be magnificently recreated. This teahouse was loved by the founding patron of the temple.
The architect Nakamura reconstructed with this pavilion the so-called one-and-a-half mat tea room which was built by Sen no Rikyū inside the Juraku residence in Kyōto in his old age.
Rikyū mentioned that Toyotomi, Hideyoshi didn't like it and so he changed it to the size of two tatami mats. Though there were hardly any information left about the original room, it is inferred that the one-and-a-half mat tea house, built by the third successor Sōtan, was a faithful reproduction of the original.
Since the floor plan of a one-and-a-half mat tea room with a six tatami kitchen was added to an old drawing, it is thought to be the tea house of the Juraku residence. Sōtan's third son Kōshin, fourth successor of the Sen family and the founder of Omotesenke, changed it to a three tatami room, but he left the detailed description of the former tea house.
Using all this information, Nakamura was able to recreate Sen no Rikyū's tea house of the Juraku residence as one of the sights of Shinshō-ji.
When Shinshō-ji was originally built in 1965, its main hall was the old Sainenbō. The Mountain Gate that was in front of it was transferred to its current site and rebuilt as the Bell Tower Gate around 1990. Now standing in front of the long stairs leading to Mumyō-in, the sound of the bell in the top brings a peaceful mind to all visitors. Please put your hands in gasshō (praying hands) and strike the bell once with sincerity.
The Shōrō-mon has no doors which means that all sentient beings can become a Buddhist priest.
Mumyō-in is the Hondō (main hall) of Shinshō-ji and was opened on February 16th 1977.
A statue of Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva) is the main figure and was made by Hamada Taizō. The Hondō has a size of over three hundred tatami mats and is throughout the year not only used for ceremonies, but also for zazen meditation, shagyō (copying sutras) etc. as a place to study the self. Furthermore, on the far side of the main hall is Myōmyō-ken, a tea room with an innovative design that enables participants to clearly see the tea ceremony action through tiered seating, cameras, and television monitors. There is also a Zendō (meditation hall), which was built with a lower than usual meditation platform.
In the precincts of Mumyō-in there are also the Goma-dō (praying for benefits in the present world), the Pokkuri-dō (shrine for a peaceful death) and several other shrines. There is also a karesansui (dry landscape garden) designed by Nakane Kinsaku. Unparalleled in its size, it is comprised of three smaller gardens. If one faces the Mumyō-in, the garden on the right is "The Mumyō Garden", in the middle is "The Amidasanzon Garden" and on the left is "The Rakan Garden".
The whole grounds can be seen as the consummation of the earnest desire of the patron Kambara Hideo to give worshipers a place to study the self and bring the mind to a peaceful state. Therefore a gravestone was built on a slightly elevated place in front of the Hondō for the memory of the patron, who continually watches over those who visit the temple.
This teahouse is in the precincts of Mumyō-in the only building in the sukiya style and has a small room of four and a half tatamis, a large room of ten and a half tatamis and a kitchen. Upstairs is an artelier built for the founder Kambara Hideo who loved drawings very much.
The garden was designed by Nakane Kinsaku. It has a different flavor than the Japanese dry garden in front of Mumyō-in. Between the garden and the building lies a bamboo fence called the Kennin-ji Fence. The building's walls are covered with Japanese cypress, creating a relaxed wabi-sabi atmosphere to enjoy tea in peace.
In Buddhism, there are six types of worlds in which one can be reborn. It is said that Jizō Bodhisattva changes form in accordance with each world to guide all sentient beings, thereby saving them from suffering.
The six realms and the corresponding appearances of Jizō Bodhisattva are
The Goma-dō was built as a place to pray for safety on land and sea, for good health and worldly profits by burning various offerings in a fire ceremony. The shrine is also called Namikiri-dō due to Namikiri Fudōmyōō , who is the principal image enshrined in this temple.
Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai) sculpted the figure of Namikiri Fudōmyōō for the safety on sea. He bowed three times after every stroke with the blade and it was blessed by his teacher Keika Ajari (Huiguo). When Kūkai returned to Japan in October of 806, his ship ran into a heavy storm at the Genkai Sea and almost sank. When Fudōmyōō (Acala) heard the prayer of Kūkai, he appeared, swung the fire releasing vajra sword and calmed the evil winds. He parted the raging waves and guided the ship back to the Hakata Bay. Therefore this deity is called Namikiri ("wave cutting") Fudōmyōō.
The word "Hokkuri" comes from the Manyō-shū (an anthology of Japanese poems from the eighth century) and means complete, peaceful and tranquil.
It is a place not only to pray for a peaceful death without long suffering, but also for a harmonious life in this world, so that under the blissful guidance of Amida Nyorai.(Amitābha) in the afterworld the comfort of paradise can be achieved.
The statue of Amida Nyorai in the hall was made by the Taiwanese sculptor Wu Keming.
Since old times the believe in the Garan-jin as tutelary deities of temple compounds existed in China. Due to the syncretism of Shintō and Buddhism these deities became also enshrined and worshipped in Japanese temples.
Following this tradition the Chinju-dō was built to protect the temples and buildings in the precincts from all kinds of disaster. The temple is also called the Tenman-gu of Mirokunosato as a reverence for the famous Tenman-gu of Dazaifu in the Fukuoka Prefecture, where the deity of scholarship is worshipped.
Anraku-dō is an ossuary where the ashes of the deceased are put for memorial services. If the ashes are placed at separate locations, the merit can be increased and the deceased will be guided to comfort.
The figure of Amida Nyorai (Amitābha) stands in the front while at both sides the statue of Shōkannon Bosatsu (Avalokiteśvara) is enshrined. On a plate at the wall is a passage from the Bussetsu Amida-kyō (Amitābha Sūtra), written by the former superintendent priest of the Eigen-ji sect, Shinohara Daiyū Rōshi:
“The people, who live in the land named paradise, have no suffering but all kinds of pleasure. Therefore this land is called paradise”.
The name of the temple is taken from this passage.
The training hall is a place where both Japanese and foreigners have the chance to deepen their understanding of the self in the way of the Rinzai Zen sect. It is in general not open to the public and consists analog to a traditional monastery of an ensemble of buildings like Hondō (main hall), Zendō (meditation hall), Kaiki-dō (founder's hall), Kuri (living quarters), Shukubō (dorter) etc.
The Hondō and the Kuri had been moved from the old Sainenbō and were reconstructed in 1965 for the founding of Shinshō-ji.
The standing figure of Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva) as the principal image was sculpted by Ezaki Anju. and enshrined in the Hondō. The Zendō was relocated and reconstructed from the sōdō (training hall) of Kenchō-ji/Kamakura in the Kanagawa Prefecture. In the back of the temple grounds stands the Kaiki-dō in memory of Kambara Hideo, the donator and founder of Shinshō-ji.
The building was initially established as Jibutsu-dō (Inner Buddha Hall) with a statue of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata) as the symbol of faith into the Pure Land.
The standing statue of Amida Tathāgata placed in the hall was the personal buddha statue of the founding patron.
The quiet and modest style of the hall, designed by the architect Nakamura Masao, reminds people of the smaller sized Tōgu-dō of Ginkaku-ji, where the Jibutsu-dō of Ashikaga Yoshimasa was set.
The founding patron named the building Hibutsu-dō (Non-Buddha Hall) and wrote the two characters of "Hibutsu" on the plaque by himself.
The Kaisan-dō was established in memory of Zen master Ekijū Sōshin, the first chief priest of Shinshō-ji.
His secular name was Tsuchida, which he later changed to Takeda. He was born on July 10th, 1896 on the Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita prefecture and got ordained in Shōsui-ji in Katata/Shiga Prefecture when he was eleven. In May 1915 he started his training in Kennin-ji under Takeda Mokurai Rōshi and continued then with Takeda Eisen Rōshi, from whom he received Dharma transmission.
He was the abbot of Shōsui-ji and Daisen-in and worked then in the Honzan of Daitoku-ji. In 1944 he became the Rōshi of the Kennin-ji sōdō and in 1954 he was appointed to be the seventh superintendent priest of the Kennin-ji sect. In 1965 he became the first abbot of Shinshō-ji and on June 20th 1989 he passed away at the age of 92.
This building was modeled after the Fudō-dō on Mt. Kōya, a famous building from the Kamakura period (1185-1333). It was built to be able to host tea ceremonies. A statue of the temple founder by the Kyōto potter Murata Tōen is enshrined inside. The characters on the front of the building were written by Master Matsuo Tainen, the former superintendent priest of the Engaku-ji school.
The bath is one of the seven regular buildings (temple gate, lecture hall, Buddha hall, meditation hall, living quarters, lavatory, bath) of a traditional Buddhist temple and the place, where Battabara Bosatsu is worshipped. In Zen, the study of Buddhism lies in the daily routines and each place be used for it. Washing off the dirt both physically and spiritually plays an important role in the daily practice.
This bath is mainly built for the practitioners of the International Zen training Hall, but it is also open for all visitors, who want to wash away the dirt of body and mind.
This building was moved to its present location from Eigen-ji, the headquarters of the Rinzai sect's Eigen-ji school in Shiga Prefecture.
Gankū-in (Emptiness Hall) was built in 1377 (when Ichi Keijun was the head of Eigen-ji) as a memorial for the first head priest of Eigen-ji, Shōtō Kokushi (Zen master Jakushitsu Genkō),and called Kōhan-an.
When in August 1414 Shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimochi came to Eigen-ji, he changed the name to Gankū-in and donated the plaque to the third abbot, Zen master Matsumine. In 1563 the building was burned down by soldiers and in 1647 the eighty-first abbot, Zen master Nyosetsu Mongan, reconstructed it as the living quarters for the abbot and a study place for the monks.
Shogondo is a gallery that exhibits Zen artworks by Hakuin from the temple’s permanent collection.
Many Japanese think that the word ‘shogon’ means “to magnificently decorate a temple’s halls, such as the main hall, with statues and objects.” However, according to Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (published by Shogakukan), one of the most authoritative dictionaries of the Japanese language, the correct definition is “to spiritually decorate the body of a person and the place he/she lives with the good and beautiful, such as wisdom and virtue.”
Hakuin said, “There is no gorgeous building decorated with gold and silver in a Buddha’s pure land. The land is purified and becomes magnificent by bodhisattvas with aspirations for Buddhahood.”
The Zen paintings and calligraphy by Hakuin exhibited in the Shogondo hall evoke aspirations for Buddhahood in viewers’ minds.
KOHTEI is an art pavilion built on the campus of Shinshoji Zen temple. A ship-shaped building with traditional kokerabuki wooden shingles, it gives the impression that it is gently floating over the stony landscape. Walking through the ocean of rocks and feeling their materiality, the viewer ascends a slope and enters the pavilion from a small entryway. Inside is darkness, where a quiet ocean lies. The ripples reflect glimmers of light.
※Viewers may need to wait for entry when crowded.
91,Kamisanna, Numakuma-chō, Fukuyama-shi, Hiroshima-ken 720-0401 Japan
Tomotetsu bus (direct bus, only weekend and holidays)
Fukuyama station, bus terminal, bus stop #6, enter a bus heading for 『Miroku no Sato direct bus』 and get off at 「Shinshōji」
Tomotetsu bus (regular bus)
Fukuyama station, bus terminal, bus stop #6, enter a bus heading for 「Chitosebashi」,「Abuto」,「Tsuneishi」or「Utsuminyōkyō」and get off at 「Tenjinyama」. From there it is 15 minutes to walk.(We can pick you up at the 「Tenjinyama」bus stop. Please call us.)
※Please ask directly Tomotetsu bus for the boarding time etc.
Sanyō Shinkansen (Bullet Train), Sanyō Main Line: 30 minutes by Tomotetsu Bus
25 minutes from Fukuyama Station by car.
Exit Miroku-no-sato - 3min