History of Shunkōin Temple


Shunkōin Temple, which is a subtemple of Myōshinji Temple, was established by Yoshiharu Horio in 1590 to honor his son, Kinsuke Horio, who died in the Battle of Odawara, or Odawara-no-kassen,and to worship his ancestors.

The founder, Yoshiharu Horio, was originally a vassal of Hideyoshi Toyotomi in Owari, in present-day Aichi Prefecture. After Hideyoshi Toyotomi unified Japan and became a regent, or kampaku, in 1585, Yoshiharu were appointed as one of three secretariat directors, or san-tyurou in the Toyotomi government. After Regent Hideyoshi Toyotomi died in 1598 and the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Ieyasu Tokugawa become the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, or Edo Bakufu in 1603. Yoshiharu was appointed a feudal lord of Matsue, in present-day Shimane Prefecture, by Ieyasu Tokugawa. After the death of Yoshiharu, Yoshiharu's grandson, Tadaharu, succeeded Yoshiharu's position and ruled Matsue. He was an outstanding political leader. However, he died in 1633,he was only 34 years old. Since he had no male heir, the Tokugawa shogunate disallowed the Horio clan to continue to rule Matsue.

However, Noriyuki Ishikawa become a new main patron of Shunkōin and made this temple as the Ishikawa clan's family temple in the mid 17th century. Noriyuki's mother was a daughter of Tadaharu Horio. Thus, it was natural for the Ishikawa clan to take over Shunkōin after the Horio clan. When Noriyoshi became the main patron of Shunkōin, he rebuilt most of the buildings and gardens. Because he ruled the Ise region and was an enthusiastic worshipper of the Great Shrine of Ise, The theme of Shunkōin's main garden,the Garden of Sazareishi, is the Great Shrine of Ise and Ise region.

Shunkōin Temple was one of the most important places for Japanese Zen Buddhism in the early 20th century. Dr. Hōseki Shinich Hisamatsu* lived in Shunkōin and wrote his books. he was a famous philosopher, Zen Buddhist scholar, calligrapher, Japanese tea ceremony master, and the founder of the FAS Society. His friend and the most well known Japanese Zen Buddhist scholar, D.T. Suzuki, was a frequent guest of this temple. D.T. Suzuki and Dr. Hisamatsu discussed the new philosophy consisting both Western philosophy and Zen Buddhism at the guest house of Shunkōin. In the front garden of Shunkō, there are azaleas around Ginsui-no-ido, or the Well of Silver Water. Those azaleas were offered and planted by D.T. Suzuki and Hōseki Hisamatsu.

Yoshiharu Horio

Shōtokuin (Yoshiharu's Wife)

Old Pinetree

the Garden of Sazareishi

King Wu's Gardians


Azaleas of D.T. Suzuki