Another day, another sub-temple of Nanzenji... not! It's actually pretty rare to be able to visit something new in Nanzenji, but Dainei-ken has opened before in 2011, only I wasn't in Kyoto at the time :) The name of the place is already a bit puzzling, the last character (軒 - ken) being quite rare for a sub-temple: they usually end in 庵 (an), 院 (in), 堂 (do) and of course 寺 (ji).
The oldest record I could find was that Dainei-ken was destroyed by fire in 1438, although it was probably at a different location back then. No I didn't go digging in a dusty library for hours: just look at some of the links below :) Although originally part of Nanzen-ji, Dainei-ken became a private residence from 1890, around when the Biwako canal was built. It was later dedicated to tea ceremony, and only recently (2004) returned to Nanzen-ji. The garden (about 1500m2) was originally part of the neighbouring Konchi-in, and the place was called the Kuretake villa (呉竹別荘) since that was the name of its owner.
The garden is organized around its central pond, but still incorporates some karesansui (dry landscape garden - 枯山水) elements: one of the rivers leading to the pond is a river of pebbles! The garden is a bit "busy", with many lanterns and tsukubai and stones scattered here and there. The most striking feature of this garden is without doubt its triple torii (or "tripod torii" - 三脚鳥居 or 三柱鳥居), which consists in tree torii fused together in an equilateral triangle pattern. It is one of the three "rare torii" of Kyoto, the other ones being the gabled torii (風型鳥居) of the Itsukushima shrine (厳島神社, located on the Imperial palace grounds) and the stone torii of Kitano Tenmangu whose 'rare' features are even more cryptic. Needless to say, the rarest and most interesting is definitely our tripod torii. It is not the only one found in Japan though, and is even said to imitate another "tripod torii" found in Konoshima shrine (木嶋神社). My engineering take on this torii is that it's a particularly good idea to make them more robust to earthquakes :)
Recommended for: Access:
Nearby: Konchi-in 金地院 (80m), Nanyō-in 南陽院 (90m), Tenju-an 天授庵 (200m), Nanzen-in 南禅院 (280m), Murin-an 無鄰菴 (400m), Saishō-in 最勝院 (400m), Seiryu-tei 清流亭 (430m), Awata-jinja 粟田神社 (530m), Eikan-dō 永観堂 (640m), Kōbun-tei 好文亭 (660m),...
External links: 京都風光, Satellite view, Map
Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 左京区, Sakyo-ku, Nanzen-ji, 南禅寺, 瑞龍山南禅寺, temple, 寺院, 仏閣, 大寧軒, Dainei-ken, subtemple, 塔頭