Beautiful scenery that hasn’t changed in 1200 years
Built as an Imperial villa, the temple was established in 875. Osawa Pond, which was built within the grounds, is Japan’s oldest artificial pond, and around its 1 km perimeter are about 650 overhanging cherry and maple trees and 3000 lotus plants growing wildly, so you can enjoy scenery that hasn’t changed in 1200 years. The chrysanthemums on Osawa Pond’s Chrysanthemum Island were placed in vases by Emperor Saga, and it’s said that this affection for nature gave rise to ikebana, and the headquarters (the school head) for the Saga Goryu art of flower arrangement is based at Daikakuji. Osawa Pond is also famous as one of “Japan’s Three Best Observation Sites for the Harvest Moon”, and in September, there is “Moon Viewing Night” when you can enjoy watching the moon from a boat on the pond. In November and December, there are night visits where the main temple building and Osawa Pond are illuminated and you can view the beautiful autumn leaves. The gate used by the Emperor (Chokushi-mon) is created from wood and decorated in gold and lacquer. All of the buildings within the grounds are connected by Murasame corridors with nightingale floors which squeak when enemies walk on them and low ceilings so that katana swords cannot be swung around. In the Emperor’s residence, beautiful gold-colored images: “Botan-zu” (peony), “Kohakubai-zu” (red-and-white plum) and “Shouou-zu” (willow pine), painted by Sanraku Kano are decorated on the fusuma sliding doors. In the “Shoushinden” guest hall, there are ink drawings of Chinese-style landscapes on the room partitions and sliding doors. In the “Godaido” main hall, the Five Wisdom Kings are enshrined centering on Acala, the God of Fire, and the view of Osawa Pond from there is wonderful. Moreover, Emperor Saga’s handwritten copy of the Heart sutra is also known to be enshrined at Daikakuji Temple. You can also try out copying a sutra when you visit.