Bamboo Path, Moss and Autumn Leaves (Photo: Masayoshi Hirose)

Maple Garden and Autumn Leaves

The Autumn Leaves of Kōtō-in, sub-temple of Daitoku-ji

Ursula   - 2 min read

Daitoku-ji Temple is one of the largest Zen temples (Linzai sect) in Kyoto. When I think of Daitoku-ji Temple, I think of Ikkyu Zenji and Chasei Sen Rikyu, who are famous for their wisedom. You can visit visit four temples at Daitoku-ji Temple: Ryugen-in Temple, Daisen-in Temple, Koto-in Temple, and Zuiho-in Temple (There can be seasonal closures, so be sure to check in advance ). In this article I will be focusing on the Koto-in Temple.

The Koto-in Temple is the family temple of the Higo Hosokawa family. The Hosokawa family is a famous family that produced Tadaoki Hosokawa, a famous general who survived the Warring States period. He and his wife Hosokawa Garasha are buried at this temple. Sansai (Tadaoki) was not only a warrior, but also a man of letters and a skilled inker, who was even referred to as one of the Seven Saints of Rikyu. On the other hand, Hosokawa Garasha’s father, Mitsuhide Akechi, was tossed about by the vicissitudes of the times. Garasha died a unfortunate death.

However now in Koto-in, there are no signs of these turbulent times. Only a very calm air flows through now. As I sat facing towards the maple garden, it was so silent that you could even hear the sounds of the fallen leaves. All the sliding doors and shoji screens in the main hall are open. There’s nothing more enjoyable than relaxing and forgetting about the passing of time. I would sometimes change into my slippers and go down to the open-air garden to pick up fallen maple leaves. It felt as if Mr and Mrs Hosokawa had placed them on the scarlet carpet. I paid my respects at the cemetery and made my way home.

Getting there

From JR Kyoto Station, go to the Subway and take the Karasuma Line and get off at Kitaoji Station. From Kitaoji Bus Terminal G, take bus 204 (for Kinkakuji, Enmachi) or 206 (for Kyoto Station) and get off at the Daitokuji-mae stop. From here its a 5 minute walk.


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