New Destinations on the mountaintop of Higashiyama, Kyoto
Guide to “Seiryuden”, “Oobutai”, and “Shogunzuka”

In October 2014, we celebrated the completion of the great Goma hall “Seiryuden”on the mountaintop of Higashiyama, Kyoto.

Seiryuden is a large wooden structure—roughly half as wide as the temple housing the Nara Buddha—where the National Treasure “Ao Fudo” is worshipped. At Shorenin, Ao Fudo was enshrined in the anterior hall of Seiryuden for the first time, and visitors can pray through a highly accurate reproduction. Inside the building, on certain days, Goma (small pieces of wood to invoke divine help) burning takes place to pray for people’s requests.

A new wooden “Oobutai” (great stage) has been built along with Seiryuden. Now from the mountaintop of Higashiyama, you can stand above Kyoto and see all the way out to the outskirts of Osaka. Even on rainy days, there is much to see from above the clouds in this great hall in the sky. The sheer scale and the large panoramic view of the city is enough to cause visitors to exclaim with astonishment. By opening a map and gazing at Kyoto from high above, you can easily see the locations of tourist destinations, historic spots, hotels, and more to greatly boost your understanding of the city.

In addition, you can tour “Shogunzuka”, built by Emperor Kanmu when the capital was moved to Kyoto.

The garden next to Shogunzuka is a perfect place to ponder history, with beautiful Japanese maple and cherry blossom trees; rock gardens; and hand-planted pines from and monuments for Okuma Shigenobu, Admiral Togo, and General Kuroki.

Please come and visit Shogunzuka’s Seiryuden, a place where you can meet Ao Fudo, interact with the culture and spirit of Kyoto, and learn about history.

You can take a car, taxi, or city circuit bus (please check the traffic access information) to get to Seiryuden. Those in good shape can reach Shorenin’s main temple by foot in 30 to 40 minutes via the Higashiyama Trail Course (mountain path). 

Seiryuden, the Birth of a New Destination on the mountaintop of Higashiyama, Kyoto

Originally commemorating the enthronement of Emperor Taisho in Taisho 2 (1915), the Seiryuden is a large, valuable wooden-structure that was built in front of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine as the Butokuden for the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai Kyoto Branch.
Following the war, it was transferred to Kyoto Prefecture in Showa 22 (1947), and as a peace dojo or training hall, it became a Kendo and Judo dojo for the police. Later it was opened to the public, and many young people came to engage in martial arts training.
In Heisei 10 (1999), the Kyoto government closed down the peace dojo and decided to have it dismantled. After that, Shorenin decided to inherit this historical and cultural heritage by relocating it to the top of Mt. Higashiyama, Kyoto, and rebuilding it as "Seiryuden.” Please visit there and find out reconstruction technology that was used at the time.

Seiryuden’s Background

In 1915, with an order from Prince Fushimi Sadanaru, leader of Emperor Meiji’s funeral and Emperor Taisho’s coronation, donations were assembled from the people of Kyoto, and the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (lit. “Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society”) became the center of an effort that resulted in the construction of the “Dai Nippon Butoku Kai Kyoto Branch Butokuden” in front of Kyoto’s Kitano Tenmangu.

Though at a glance, Butokuden seems to have completely Japanese architecture, in fact the roof trusses and the foundation supporting the structure utilize foreign techniques, making the giant wooden structure a symbol of the “Japanese-Western blend” of the Taisho Era. There is a real possibility the structure will be designated an Important Cultural Property someday.
Later, in 1947, control of the structure was transferred to Kyoto Prefecture, and it was renamed “Heian Dojo” and used as a police Judo and Kendo dojo.

In 1999, Kyoto Prefecture was late in handling rain damage to the structure, and because of the high repair costs, it was decided to close Heian Dojo and demolish it.

But in 2009, Shorenin decided to move and reconstruct the structure as “Seiryuden” at Kyoto Higashiyamasancho’s Shogunzuka, completing the operation in October 2014.

〔Dimensions of Seiryuden〕
Single story wooden building with tiled roof
Outer chamber - Floor area: About 537m2 Height: 14.5m Length east/west: About 26m Length north/south: About 20m
Inner chamber - Floor area: About 138m2, newly built Length east/west: About 12.8m Length north/south: About 11.4m