A long and narrow approach to the temple is lined with maple and bamboo trees. In early summer, the stone-paved path becomes more graceful with vivid green leaves of the trees, green moss on the ground and green handrails made of the bamboo.
The temple’s garden is simple but appealing. The surface is covered with moss. A stone lantern sits in the center of the garden with several maple trees planted. The background is a bamboo grove. These elements are placed in the right balance and harmony. Autumn adds to the charm of the garden as the ground is carpeted with the stunning red-colored maple leaves.
Koto-in is a sub-temple of the Daitoku-ji temple complex in Kyoto city. It is famous for its refined approach and garden. Central Japan Railway Company used the landscapes in early summer and autumn in its well-known series of posters to draw visitors to Kyoto. Daitoku-ji, a Zen Buddhist temple, has a total of 22 sub-temples. Only four of the sub-temples including Koto-in are regularly opened to the public.
It was built in 1601 by Hosokawa Tadaoki, a feudal lord and military commander. He served the three supreme rulers, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tadaoki was not only a successful warrior but also a man of culture. He was one of the seven leading disciples of Sen no Rikyu, the renowned Japanese tea master.
The gravestone of Tadaoki and his wife is an elegant stone lantern which was once treasured by Rikyu. It is said that Rikyu deliberately broke the back of the lantern to make it imperfect and keep it when the ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi desired to have it. In addition, Koto-in has a modest study room moved from Rikyu’s residence.
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