The former Chikurin-in Temple: The Garden of Sakamoto

The Sakamoto area is located at the foot of Mt. Hiei, just 15 minutes from Otsu in Shiga prefecture. This area used to be a residence for retired monks, and the former Chikurin-in Temple is well-known for its beautiful Japanese gardens. The second floor of the main hall is a great place for reflection photography.

Former Chikurin-in Temple

The former Chikurin-in Temple is located in Sakamoto, where many retired monks from Enryaku-ji resided. Those temples, referred to as Satobo, include the Chikurin-in Temple too.  Today, Chikurin-in is owned by Otsu City, so it is no longer a temple. 

There are so many temples for retired monks in Sakamoto, but only Chikurin-in, Byakugo-in (currently a restaurant), and Shiga-in (No photography) are around today.   


entrance to the former Chikurin-in Temple
entrance to the former Chikurin-in
The main building of the former Chikurin-in Temple.
The main building of the former Chikurin-in Temple.

Built in the 19th century, the two-story building stands right in front of the garden and you can get great views of the gardens from the first and second floors.

One of the famous things to do in former Chikurin-in is reflection photography. There is a table with a smooth surface in the corner of the room, so you “reflect” the garden on the table and take a photo of it. It sounds fun, but it can be frustrating getting all the details of the shot just right. 

The table is in the corner of the room. It looks much harder than it seems.

The great thing is that this garden is typically not crowded, so you can take your time getting just the right shot.

Japanese gardens at the former Chikurin-in Temple

A must-visit spot in the gardens is the central pond, fed by water from the nearby Omiya River, which also flows through Hiyoshi Shrine. The Japanese garden in the former Chikurin-in Temple is the biggest in Sakamoto, and certainly it is very beautiful. It was cloudy the day we went, but I think Japanese gardens are especially cloudy or even snowy days.

The gardens span about 3,300 sq meters
You can see Mt. Hachioji and part of Hiyoshi Shrine from the gardens as well.
A classic Japanese garden

No traditional Japanese garden is complete without a tea house…

Maybe I need a tea house in my garden too

I guess this garden is particularly pretty in the fall or snowy season. If you enjoy taking beautiful photos of a Japanese garden, the Former Chikurin-in Temple can be a choice. 


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