Shinju-an (the 'Pearl Temple') is a sub-temple of Daitokuji. Founded in honor of Ikkyu, son of Emperor Gokomatsu. Ikkyu lived here for several years, and, after giving up the right to the throne, became the abbot of Daitokuji from 1474 to 1481. He is remembered for the being responsible for rebuilding Daitokuji after its destruction in the Onin Wars. He is also remembered for his patronage of artists such as Juko Murata, the founder of the tea ceremony and Kanami, Seami and Konparu, creators of the Noh theatre. The remains of Juko, Kanami and Seami were all interred at Shinju-an.
The site consists of three buildings, the kuri (living quarters), the hon-do (main hall) and the shoin (study) with an attached tea house. The kuri and the hon-do are connected by a veranda. A second passage connects the shoin and the hon-do. All three buildings are listed by the national government as 'Important Cultural Assets'.
The hon-do was thought to have been built in 1490, but recent research has shown that it is a reconstruction dating from 1638. It consists of three rooms and a garden. The West Room contains the oldest screen paintings in Japan, a series of eight landscape panels painted by Jasoku Soga, a contemporary of Ikkyu that was converted to Zen Buddhism by the priest. The Central Room has a wooden sculpture of Ikkyu as well as several more Jasoku Soga screen paintings of birds and flowers. The East Room contains Momoyama period paintings by Hasegawa Tohaku (1539-1610) portraying the legend of Han Dynasty Emperor Koso and the rivalry between his two sons.
The shoin building, known as 'Tsusen-in', was originally part of the imperial palace of Emperor Ogimachi, before it was transferred here from the Gosho. It is worth noting that the Empress was the mother of Prince Toshihito(1579-1629), who designed and contructed the Katsura Detached Palace, another important example of Shoin architecture. The screen paintings in this building are by Soami, also from the Muromachi period. Another set of landscape paintings, opposite the entrance to the tea house, were inspired by Lake Seiko in China and painted by Kano Motonobu (1475-1559). A final set of paintings in the south central room are by Tosa Mitsuoki.
The tea house, attached the the east side of the shoin, was built by Kanamori Sowa in the late 17th century. Kanamori was a daimyo and tea master from the Japan Alps. His snowy origins are said to have caused him to relocated the stone wash basin from its normal position facing the garden, to the interior. The stone basin had also been a gift of Emperor Ginsoku, moved here at the same time as the shoin building.
The East Garden's design is attributed to Muraka Juko (Shuko), Ashikaga Yoshimasa's tea master. It includes a combination of rocks in groupings of seven, five and three against a background of moss. The garden is throught to have originally been set against the background of the Higashiyama hills, the Kamo River and the Kyoto, with Mt Hiei in the distant background. Today, large trees and buildings form a very different backdrop.
Other local relics include a wash basin near the passage between the hondo and the shoin and a well where Murasaki Shikibu (author of the Tale of Genji) is said to have washed as a child. (Her remains are interred nearby.)
Since before anyone remembers
It has been clear
Shining like silver
Though the moonlight penetrates it and the wind ruffles it
No trace of either remains.
Today I would not dare to expound the secret of the stream bed
But I can tell you
That the blue dragon is coiled there.
Muso Soseki trans. by W.S. Merwin and Soiku Shigematsu 14th century