Devastated by fire and war only to be rebuilt by Hideyoshi Toyotomi
In 874, Shobo, a disciple of a disciple of the founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kukai, inherited Kami-Daigo, a top of a mountain where the sacred Daigo spring water originated, and the temple began with the enshrinement of a Kannon statue. The Emperor at the time, Daigo, erected Shaka-do, Yakushi-do and Godai-do Halls and later on, Emperor Murakami had a five-storey pagoda built, so the temple has a deep relationship with the Imperial Family. Even with devastation by fire and war, the temple was rebuilt thanks to Hideyoshi and Hideyori Toyotomi taking the opportunity to hold the “Flower Viewing of Daigo”. The temple grounds are huge and are separated into 3 large areas consisting of Kami-Daigo at the top of the mountain, Shimo-Daigo at the foot and the Sanboin which was built in 1115.
The famous Flower Viewing of Daigo, a grand party
In the spring of 1598, 62-year-old Hideyoshi had 700 cherry trees planted for flower-viewing, and he also had the buildings of the Sanboin along with a garden built, all toward the holding of a grand party which invited 1300 people. Even now, on the second Sunday of April every year, there is a re-creation of the Ho-Taiko Hanami Gyoretsu (Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s cherry blossom-viewing parade) with many tourists coming to watch. For about 3 weeks, various types of cherry trees at Sanboin and the main hall blossom, and the area is well known as a place for cherry blossoms in Kyoto.
Viewing of fall foliage, Hideyoshi’s dashed dream
The Sanboin Garden, designed by Hideyoshi and which is in harmony with the fall colors, is extremely beautiful. However, although he could hold the cherry blossom viewing party, Hideyoshi could not bring fall foliage viewing to reality. Instead, it is said that the beauty of the fall leaves became a memento from him for future generations. Also, the path beyond the Nioumon gate is a tunnel of fall foliage, and the Rinsen (Forest Spring) Pond which centers Shimo-Daigo’s Kannon-do and Benten-do Halls reflects the leaves and buildings into breathtaking beauty. The nighttime illumination that is held in the fall is by reservation only (fax or Internet) and is an event where you can enjoy the magical foliage.