Located in Monguchi-cho Ichijoji Sakyo Ward, Shisen-do is a delightful little temple in the northern part of the Higashi-yama mountains. It was built in 1641 by the poet Ishikawa Jozan (1583-1672) as a moutain retreat for hermits. It now belongs to the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism.

Shisen-do Temple is an unpretentious building which somewhat resembles a large thatched hut. The name “Shisen-do” means “Hall of Immortal Poets” and the temple grounds are famous for their tranquility.

Inside, its walls are adorned with hanging scrolls of ink-brushed poems, and 36 masterful portraits of ancient Chinese poets. Kano Tanyu (1602-1674) painted the images of the 36 Chinese poets seen in the Shisen-no-ma Hall.

The temple is famous for its Japanese azalea (tsutsuji) garden and its tranquility. The garden landscaped in the Tang Chinese style shows a stream flowing through white gravel. From the study one looks out on a picturesque garden of white sand with dwarf azaleas (which reach their peak of beauty in May) and maple trees. 

A small waterfall feeds a “shishi odoshi,” a bamboo sounding device which fills with water, pivots on a hinge to empty itself, then strikes a rock on its upswing. The wooden-sounding “thwack,” designed to scare away wild boar or deer, is a counterpoint to the temple’s stillness, and yet fits with its rustic atmosphere.

Visitors to the temple can experience the serenity and simple elegance of a bygone era.

May 23 is the anniversary of Jozans death and an exhibition of articles associated with Jozan and other items is held over three days from May 25. Admission to the exhibition is free of charge.


27 Ichijyojimonkuchimachi Sakyo-ku.
Tel: 075-781-2954 | Fax: 075-721-9450

By Bus
City Bus: Ichijyouji kudarimatumachi. The temple is 300 meters from the bus stop [Ichijoji Sagari-matsucho], about 10 min walk.

9:00am - 5:00pm. Last admission: 4:30pm.

About 30 minute(s).

Closed May 23 for anniversary of Jozan's death.

500 yen for public, 200 yen for school children.