Shinyo-do was founded in 984 by priest Kaisan to enshrine a statue of the Buddha of Paradise. The temple became famous as a training centre where one can practice the "Fudan Nenbutsu", a prayer to Buddha that lasts all day without any pause. This tradition evolved into the "O-juja", a 10-day chanting prayer that is still performed every year. Like many temples in Kyoto, Shinyo-do was destroyed during the Onin war (1467~1477) but was subsequently rebuilt. The temple's main icon had been hidden away from Kyoto during the war and returned to the temple in 1693. Many famous people and families are buried in the temple, among others haiku poet Mukai Kyorai (one of the 10 disciples of Basho, see the Rakushisha hermitage), the Mitsui family (rich merchants of the pre-WWII area) and none others than several members of the Fujiwara family.
To visit the temple one must enter the main hall (hondo - 本堂) and pay a fee at the booth in the left corner. The hondo has a very large (second largest) tapestry representing the Nirvana (4x6m). Leaving the main hall, a covered path leads to other temple buildings where one can see two gardens, both quite recent, a rare fact for such an old temple.
The first is the Nehan ("Nirvana") garden and was built in the classic karesansui rock garden style, in 1988. It uses the "landscape borrowing" technique to include Mt. Hiei in its design. The second garden is even more recent, and possibly the most recently major garden in Kyoto: it was constructed in 2010 by gardener Shigemori Chisao and named "随縁の庭" (which I can't translate or pronounce yet). Its geometrical pattern reminds of the design of Tofuku-ji gardens which were indeed created by the father of Chisao.
Shinyo-do's gardens are not well known yet, especially the newest one. The temple grounds, however, are a popular spot to see the autumn colours so it can be very crowded during the peak season. Near Shinyo-do, on the same hill, is Konkaikomyo-ji (金戒光明寺), another large temple of the Kurodani area.
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Nearby: Saiun-in 西雲院 (180m), Eishō-in 栄摂院 (220m), Konkaikōmyō-ji 金戒光明寺 (220m), Ryuko-in 龍光院 (250m), Takenaka Inari Jinja 竹中稲荷神社 (390m), Sakuradanicho 47 桜谷町47 (470m), Yōji-ya よーじや銀閣寺店 (490m), Yoshida-jinja 吉田神社 (540m), Anraku-ji 安楽寺 (570m), Mo-an 茂庵 (570m),...
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Keywords: Japan, 日本, Japon, Kyoto, 京都, 左京区, Sakyo-ku, Shinyo-do, 真如堂, temple, 寺院, 仏閣