The long pilgrimage trail running around the eastern side of Kyoto takes visitors to several magnificent temples of the city. Among them Shisendo stays quietly and modestly behind a small gate, now appearing now disappearing through a greenish bamboo grove on the foot of Higashiyama mountain. It does not promise something gorgeous but surely the thing which could make your mind and soul peaceful. Even the location Ichijoji district is a part of city, it remains an ancient village ten more than what you can imagine, Shisendo is a real mountain hermitage with the most beautiful and unique garden around. Just escape the crowds surrounding other famous temples and shrines to feel a truely serene inside Shisendo.
Shisendo was built in 1641 by Ishikawa Jozan as his retreat after retire. There are many things to tell about this character. You will get hard to find a thing to describe him, the founder of the Edo Shogunate or the founder of the sencha tradition of steeped tea, an expert in the Chinese styled poetry as well as a master calligrapher in the clerical script style. Jozan was born in a Samurai family and early became a man of Tokugawa Ieyasu however, he is the man of art. After living about 17 years as a warrior, he retired at the age of 33 then spending time researching Zen Buddhism, calligraphy, Chinese poetry, and the sencha tradition of steeped tea. This refined man even loved gardening and created a masterpiece inside Shisendo temple.
Say something about the name of Shisendo, that means hermit’s retreat. Besides, the temple has its proper name of Outotsuka meaning a residence built on uneven land. Not a dainty noun but people consider it as a poetic name for Shisendo. The structure begins at a rustic gate called Shoyudo lying on top of a gently sloping stair hiding behind bamboo groves on both sides. There is an other gate at Shisendo called Rokaiban leading to the front garden of white sand. Main structure of Shisendo consists of the main room Shisennoma, the study room Shirakuso and the moon viewing room Shogetsuro.
Shisendo temple is famous for its magnificent garden designed by Jozan himself to enjoy the changing seasonal beauty. The garden features shishiodoshi, a kind of bamboo tube installed to scare wild animals. Jozan invented shishidoshi as a bamboo seesaw that drop by drop of water flow into the tube then when water fills the tube, it leans under the weight and pours all water out then back to the original position. The whole process creates interesting echoes in silent garden. The princess of the garden should be warf azeleas burst into colorful bloom in late May. May also dresses wisteria beautifully in white, before all the whole garden falls into red fire of autumn in November. There is a little pond inside the garden full of carp playing in water from shishiodoshi.
From 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Last entry at 4:45 pm
Closed on May 23th