Sanboin Garden 三宝院庭園

Sampo-in Temple Garden
Sampo-in Temple Garden

A humble temple hideaway with an ornate garden

A sub-temple of Daigoji in the southeast of Kyoto, Sanpoin Temple is home to a garden explicitly designed for flower viewing.

How to Get There

From Kyoto Station, take the Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Yamashina Station and transfer to the Tozai Line. Alight at Daigo Station and walk for about 13 minutes.

Quick Facts

The rocks here are so famous they were the subject of a classic play

The temple was originally built in 1115

The garden was designed to be admired from inside the temple

A picturesque temple with a long history

The temple was founded in 1115 and reconstructed in 1598 under the guidance of samurai and political icon Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A reflection of that time, the temple is filled with exquisite Kano paintings.

The garden's famous stones

Around 800 elegantly arranged stones dot the garden. Many of the stones were brought from Hideoyoshi's private residence, Jurakudai. The large rectangular stone called "Fujito-no-ishi" is the most famous, symbolizing deception and death. Legend has it that a large sum of money was offered for it but refused. It's so important that an entire Noh play was written about it.

Built for the view

The garden is just over 5,000 square meters. It was designed with the view from the temple's interior in mind, with the pond at the center of the garden, as per Hideyoshi's instructions. From the main room of the temple, you can see a waterfall, an island and multiple bridges across the pond.

Sanpoin features a few other gardens including a karesansui garden, which is a typical Japanese rock garden meant to imitate aspects of nature, such as rolling hills and water. There is also a garden composed only of moss and white sand.

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