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Daisen-in is a sub-temple of Daitoku-ji in Kyoto. It was founded in 1509 by Rokkaku Masayori, who named his son, Kogaku Sôkô, the first abbot upon the latter's retirement as abbot of the whole of Daitoku-ji.

The hôjô (abbot's residence) at Daisen-in, built in 1513, is the oldest in Japan, and has been named a National Treasure. The shoin (study) is also a fine example of irimoya architecture, and is considered an Important Cultural Property. The karesansui "dry landscape" rock gardens, also set in place around 1513, are particularly representative examples of Muromachi period rock gardens. The most famous of these gardens is also among the smallest of the famous Zen rock gardens. It extends along the east side, and part of the north side, of the hôjô, and is quite narrow and enclosed by plastered walls. The garden evokes the idea of a river flowing alongside the building; two vertical rocks represent the mountains the river flows down from, while other rocks represent a bridge over the river, and fish swimming upstream.

A set of paintings in the kyakuden (guest hall) are likewise particularly significant. Painted by Kanô Motonobu for the abbot's room in the kyakuden around 1513, they depicted six Zen patriarchs, and are considered particularly good examples of the formulation by Motonobu of a concrete Kanô style. Though originally produced as fusuma (sliding door/wall) paintings, the works have been remounted as hanging scrolls. A series of fusuma paintings by Sôami and depicting the Xiao and Xiang Rivers are also considered noteworthy.

The grounds at Daisen-in also include a tearoom where Sen no Rikyû and Toyotomi Hideyoshi enjoyed tea; an arrangement in that tearoom is described as an early prototype of the tokonoma.


  • Mason, Penelope. History of Japanese Art. Second Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall, 2005. pp216-217, 229-231.
  • Plaques onsite.

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