Daitokuji (大徳寺) is a Rinzai Buddhist temple located in Kyoto, Japan. The mountain where its complexes are laid out is called by the sacred name of Ryuhozan (龍宝山), lit. dragon treasure mountain. It was established in 1319 by Shohomyocho (宗峰妙超) who is also called Daitokokushi (大燈国師).

Daitokuji was frequented by Emperor Go-Daigo of Japan and was counted as one of the five sacred moutains. But after the Ashikaga shogunate was established, it was removed from the list and the shogunate chose to ignore in favor of other temples that had not openly oppose them. It then decided to stay away from meddling in politics and to focus on Buddhist teachings through Zen practices. During Onin War, part of its temples were burned down and it was subsequently rebuilt by rich merchants of Sakai, Osaka. After Ashikaga shogunate fell, many daimyo donated and supported Daitokuji.

Many of Daitokuji’s temples were constructed before and early Edo period. Karamon (唐門) of Daitokuji is believed to be a remain of a Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s richly decorated palace called Jurakudai (聚楽第) and is a national treasure of Korea. The first of three gates was constructed in 1526. The temple has such national treasures as Kan’non Enkakuzu (観音猿鶴図) and Daitokokushi Gazo (大燈国師画像) to name a few. There are also six temples constructed by various daimyo and patrons.

  • Obai’in (黄梅院) – Constructed by Takakage Kobayakawa
  • Shinju’an (真珠庵) – Believed to be constructed by Ikkyu. The garden by Tamamitsu Murata and wall paintings by Dasoku Soga and Hasegawa Tohaku
  • Daisei’in (大仙院) – The main temple is a national treasure. Also with a rock garden
  • Juko’in (聚光院) – The wall painting by Kano Eitoku
  • Ryoko’in (龍光院) – Constructed by Nagamasa Kuroda. The tea room Mittan (密庵) is widely known
  • Koho’an (孤篷庵) – Constructed by Kobori Enshu. The tea room Bosen (忘筌) is widely known

Ikkyu and Sen Rikyu are two of many famous people who had been influenced by Daitokuji. A rumor has it that Sen no Rikyu completed two of Daitokuji’s three gates in 1589 and this was his undoing. It is said that he chose to have statue of himself on top of the second gate. Hideyoshi Toyotomi who also frequented Daitokuji realized that he and everyone else who pass the gate to enter will be looked down by the statue. He ordered that the offending statue be removed and is reported to have ordered Sen no Rikyu commit seppuku. While it is true that Sen no Rikyu did commit seppuku, the reason for it is not known. Rikyu’s grave is located at Jukoin temple within the Daitokuji compound, as are the ancestral graves of all the Kyoto Sen family.