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Sekizan Zen-in Temple  赤山禅院 山門

History of Sekizan Zen-in Temple

Sekizan Zen-in was founded in 888 AD following the will of the high priest Jikaku Daishi Ennin as one of the affliated temples of Hieizan Enryakuji Temple, the Headquarters of Tendai sect Buddhism. Situated in a quiet neighborhood near Kyoto Shugakuin Imperial Villa, it is a famous site for the red tinged autumnal leaves.


The high priest Jikaku Daishi Ennin (794~864) went to China (then under the Tang dynasty) and, enduring a lot of hardships over there, at last mastered Tendai teachings. He thanked Sekizan Daimyojin for its protecting him during his travel to and stay in China, and it is said that he made a vow to build Sekizan Zen-in when back home. Ennin, after returning to Japan, established the basis of Tendai sect of Buddhism, but could not fulfill his vow to build Sekizan Zen-in. Following his will, Anne, the fourth Head Priest of Tendai sect, is thus said to have founded Sekizan Zen-in.


The principal deity, Sekizan Daimyojin, is a brought-back avatar or a double image of Taizanfukun in Mt. Sekizan in China (a world heritage site in China) which has been regarded as the head of China’s Five Great Mountains ; Taizanfukun became the founding father of the yin-yan philosophy in Japan. Located at Kyoto’s northeast corner , where the front spirit gate called Omote Kimon used by demons is believed to stand, Sekizan Zen-in has been worshipped as the temple to protect the citzen from bad luck coming through the gate.


Revered since by the imperial family, Sekizan Zen-in was visited by the retired Emperor Gomizunoo (1596~1680), who is known as the building owner of the Shugakuin Imperial Villa; he, then, ordered repair of the temple buildings and presented a calligraphy of the phrase Sekizan Daimyojin (赤山大明神) done by himself. Holding the sacred pendant paper strips and a cluster of bells for charm performance, a carved monkey is placed on the top of the oratory roof thereby serving a talisman against demons; as such, Sekizan Zen-in has been widely venerated up to this day as the guardian temple against the evil spirits.


Sekizan Zen-in is also known as :

●Temple of “Sekizan Kugyo (Penance)” : it is up from here and down to here that the ascetics of Sennichi Kaiho Practice (One Thousand-Day Practice, which is the hardest of all Tendai sect Buddhism ascetic practices), repeat climbing up and down, to and from the top of Mt. Hiei.
●Temple where incantations and prayers such as for “Healing Asthma with the incantatory sponged gourd ”, “Mass Service for Rosary” and “Taizanfukun Festivity” are practiced.
●Where Pilgrimage of the Miyako Shichifukujin (Pilgrimage of Kyoto’s Seven Deities of Good Luck) is said to have originated as the temple of Fukurokuju (Deity of Wealth and Longevity).
●Temple for commercial prosperity where “Custom of Payment on the 5th and 10th days” originated.

All as such, Sekizan Zen-in, with its fostered history of over 1100 years, has since amassed various ways and forms of faith.


Information for Visitors

Situated in a quiet neighborhood in the northeast of Kyoto city, Sekizan Zen-in lies in the southwest foot of Mt. Hiei and is adjacent to the Shugakuin Imperial Villa, coupled with which it is designated as Shugakuin Historic Climate Special Save District. It also has in the vicinity well-known temples such as Manshuin and Shisendo.


Location : 18 Kaikonbo-cho, Shugakuin, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Entrance Gate : Opens at 06:00 Closes at 18:00
Open to Visitors : 09:00 ~ 16:30
(Miyako Shichifukujin Stamp is available during 9:00 ~ 16:30)
Admission : Free
Access :
* 7 min. by taxi from Matsugasaki Station of Subway Karasuma Line
* 20 min. walk or 5 min. by tax from Shugakuin Station of Eizan Electric Railway
* 15 min walk from bus stop Shugakuin Rikyumichi (Municipal Bus lines 5, 31, or 65)
or 15 min walk from bus stop Shugakuin Michi (Municipal Bus, Kita line 8)

N.B. Shuttle bus service is available once a year on the day of “Healing Asthma
with the incantatory sponged gourd ”

Car Parking : Not available. Please use public transportation to visit
Contact : Call : 075-701-5181 (Sekizan Zen-in) for information