Shisen-do Temple is an unpretentious building which somewhat resembles a large thatched hut. Inside, its walls are adorned with hanging scrolls of ink-brushed poems and 36 masterful portraits of ancient Chinese poets. From the study one looks out on a picturesque garden of white sand with dwarf azaleas (which reach their peak of beauty in May) and maple trees. A small waterfall feeds a "shishi odoshi," a bamboo see-saw device which gradually fills with water at one end and makes a sharp sound on the other end as it empties itself. The wooden-sounding "thwack," designed to scare away wild boar or deer, is a counterpoint to the temple's stillness, and yet blends with its rustic atmosphere.
Shisen-do Temple was built in 1641 as a mountain hermitage by a well-known scholar and poet. The name "Shisendo" means "Hall of Immortal Poets" and the temple grounds are famous for their tranquility. Visitors to the temple can experience the serenity and simple elegance of a bygone era.
* Address: 27 Ichijoji-Monguchi-cho Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
* Tel.: 075-781-2954
* Access: 5-minute walk from City Bus Stop Ichijoji-Sagarimatsu-cho
* Hours: 9:00-17:00
* Entrance Fee: Adults (500 yen)