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Ballon Flowers at Tentokuin Temple

It’s been the season of Tsuyu (梅雨, rainy season) in Japan. Along with Hydrangeas (紫陽花), the symbolic flower of this season is Kikyo (桔梗, ballon flower). Here in the yard of Tentokuin (天得院) temple, Kikyo flowers are quietly blooming.

Tentokuin temple is one of the many sub temples of Tofukuji (東福寺) temple. The temple is always surrounded by peaceful silence, however, in the past, it was involved in a major incedent which had even changed the Japanese history.

The incident of Hoko-ji Temple Bell (方広寺鐘銘事件), which is widely introduced in Japanese history text books, occured in 1614. Toyotomi (豊臣) clan dedicated a bell to Hoko-ji temple, and the bell had an engraving of a phrase “国家安康 君臣豊楽”. The meaning of the phrase was to pray for the national preosperity and peace, however the ruler at that time, Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), accused the Teyotomi clan of a treason just becuase the Kanji charactors of Tokugawa Ieyasu were dividedly used in the phrase. Tontokuin temple was accused too because the draft of the phrase was written by Buneiseikan (文英清韓), a monk of Tentokuin temple. As a result, Tontokuin was demolished and Toyotomi clan was extinct.

What a tragic history…But now, as if nothing happened, Tentokuin is rebuilt and stands there quietly in peace. Kato-mado (花頭窓, flower shaped window) commanding pretty purple ballon flowers, Karesansui (枯山水, dry landscape) garden, and fresh greenery of moss, are all so nice to see. Please spend a relaxed time thinking about the history long past.

Akane Kibune



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