A Japanese garden, hidden behind large walls in the urban Kyoto area.
Shosei-en「渉成園」, located just 12-minute walk from Kyoto station, is a traditional Japanese, strolling style garden that belongs to the much larger neighbor, Higashi Hongan-ji Temple of the True Pure Land School of Buddhism.
Shosei-en Garden’s origins are not really known. It’s said the garden was first built in the 9th century, the early Heian period by the Prince Minamoto Notoru, the son of the Emperor Saga. Minamoto Notoru is a model for a Prince Hikaru Genji in the classic era Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu.
Today, the pond mostly remained from the original design, but the current garden was laid out in 1641 after the shogun Tokugawa donated the land to the Hongan-ji after the war. The garden was designed by confucian scholar and poet, Ichikawa Jozan and artist, tea master and aristocrat Kobori Enshu.
Shosei-en garden is well designed and arranged. Once you enter the garden, you could easily forget that you are in the heart of urban Kyoto area. Visitors can have the view of the Kyoto tower above the pond and, it’s actually like a borrowed scenery of the modern architecture.
There are traditional villas, several tea houses, a large pond with islands and bridges, a small waterfall, many stone lanterns, and trees and plants on the garden.
After entering the main gate to the left is Rinchi-tei 「臨池亭」by a small pond and the falls, a villa with open tatami rooms to overlook the pond.
Secondly, the Boka-kaku「傍花閣」, unusual two story structure standing in front of the big pond come in your sight. This is a teahouse built on a gate. The tea house on the 2nd floor is decorated with the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, thought visitors are not allowed to go inside.
Ingetsu-chi「印月池」, “Moon Crest Pond”, the big pond with its islands is the main feature of the garden. The moon is beautifully reflected on the surface of the pond, when it rises above the Higashiyama mountains.
In February, red and white plum trees in blossom in the plum orchard. And visitors are delighted by cherry blossoms in April, azaleas in May, water lilies in summer, maple leaves in autumn.
Address : Kyoto-Shi, Shimogyo-Ku, Aidanocho-higashiiru, Shimojuzuyamachi-dori, Higashitamamizu-cho 300
Hours : 9:00 to 16:00
Admission : 500 Yen
Access : 12-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station.