Sanzen-in’s association with the Imperial family
When the monk Saicho built Enryaku-ji Temple in 788, the construction of a thatched hut underneath a huge pear tree in Minamidani at the East Pagoda is said to have been the beginnings of Sanzen-in Temple. Afterwards, it became a temple administered by the family of an Imperial prince which was repeatedly moved from Mt. Hiei to Omi-Sakamoto to Kyoto. In 1871, following the Meiji Restoration, the Ohara Government House was made into the main hall and the temple was given the name of Sanzen-in.
Highlights of Sanzen-in, the Joheki-en and Yusei-en Gardens
Within the stonewall-surrounded Gotenmon gate, a silent world spreads out and time flows slowly. You can enjoy the elegance of the four seasons with the spring cherry blossoms, the early summer hydrangeas, the fall leaves and the winter snow. The two different gardens provide soothing views. Joheki-en Garden, which resembles a picture scroll in front of the guest hall, was a place whose natural scenery so impressed Edo Era tea master Sowa Kanemori when he saw it from the guest hall that he added the garden. The scenery has a feeling of solidity, and you can view it at your own leisure from the guest hall. At the elegant Yusei-en Garden in front of the Shinden hall, there is green moss, cedar and cypress around the pond, and throughout the garden, child jizo statues warmly look over the visitors. It is said that the statues rescue people in an evil world. There is the Golden Water in the garden which trickles into Benten Pond and if you put your hand into the water, it’s good for granting long life and prosperity. The god of wealth and entertainment, Benzaiten, is also enshrined there. Inside Ojo-Gokuraku-in Hall, gold-colored statues of the three Amida divinities are enshrined, atypically kneeling in the Japanese style. There, you can sense the godliness of heaven.