Shokoku-ji Temple

Shokoku-ji Temple © Iry

The History of Shokoku-ji Temple

In 1382, 3rd generation shogun of the Muromachi period, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, planned to build a large temple next to the mansion of the shogun family called "Imperial Palace of Flowers". 10 years later, in 1392, the project was completed.

The temple faced complete devastation often due to fire and war but was rebuilt each time by assistance from such figures as Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Politician and General, known as the 2nd "great unifier" of Japan) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (Founder and 1st shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate).The grounds were more extensive originally and it is believed that a 109m tall Shichijyudaito (Seven-story pagoda) once stood here as well. Currently, there is a five-story pagoda at To-ji Temple that is 55m tall. To think that a wooden structure nearly twice the height was constructed in Japan's Middle Ages is phenomenal. It is believed that the seven-story pagoda was struck and destroyed by lighting just a few years after its completion. Out of the buildings that remain today, Hatto Hall was constructed in 1605. Most of the other buildings were rebuilt in the 19th Century.

Kinkaku-ji Temple and Ginkaku-ji Temple

Shokoku-ji is the head temple of the Rinzaishu Shokoku-ji sect and is the second of Zen Buddhism's Kyoto Gozan (Five most important Rinzai sect temples of Kyoto) and is avery important temple. (The first of five Gozan is Tenryu-ji Temple.) Kinkaku-ji Temple and Ginkaku-ji Temple are more well-known but they were actually branch temples of Shokoku-ji Temple and Shokoku-ji Temple is considered to be the "original" temple. Because of that, the Shokoku-ji Temple has more prestige than Kinkaku-ji Temple and Ginkaku-ji Temple.


Appropriate for a large temple of this size, Shokoku-ji Temple has Hatto Hall, Kaisan Hall, Hojo (Room for chief priests and elders) and other stately buildings, however, the interior is not open to the public except times of special exhibition. (Please check their website for information about special exhibitions.) Jotenkaku Museum on site has paintings, tea utensils and other items from the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and beyond, on permanent exhibition. The museum requires a separate admission fee. The museum also features ink paintings of Sesshu, a famous monk, and they are worth viewing.

There is no admission fee to walk the grounds, however, special admission for viewing the interior is 800 yen per adult, 700 yen per middle school and high school student, 400 yen per elementary school student.


5 minute walk from Imadegawa Station on the subway Karasuma Line. Shokoku-ji Temple is adjacent to Doshisha University's Imadegawa Campus. It is also close to Kyoto Imperial Palace. Though it is located in the middle of the city, there is no distinguishing building and it is easy to miss. It is a famous temple that is was the stage for much history during the Muromachi period and would be a shame to miss. The museum alone is worth the visit.

Image Gallery: Shokoku-ji Temple

Description: Shokoku-ji Temple

Sights Shokoku-ji Temple (相国寺)
Address 602-0898Kyoto, Kamigyo-ku, Imadegawa Karasuma Higashi-iru
Phone / Fax Phone: 075-231-0301
Duration 1Hour(s)
Business Hours Monday:10:00-16:00
Closed dates 7 days open
Admission Fee Pay part admission: 800yen
Recommended Season
Spring (March - May)
Summer (June - August) Autumn (September - November) Winter (December - February)
Recommended target Adult (ages 20+) Single traveller

Map: Shokoku-ji Temple