After a devastating fire, this small monastery surrounded by a quiet garden was completely rebuilt in 2005. The temple's history goes back much further. In April 1185, after a two-year struggle, the Taira clan met its end in a naval battle against the rival Minamoto clan. Seeing that all was lost, the Taira women drowned themselves, taking with them the eight-year-old emperor Antoku. His mother, the 29-year-old Kenreimon-in, leaped into the sea, but Minamoto soldiers hauled her back on board their ship.
She alone survived and lived here as a nun in solitude in a 10-foot-square cell made of brushwood and thatch for 27 years, until her death ended the Taira line.
Her legacy lived on in Jakko-in, which remained a covent for the Tendai Buddhist sect. You may need to ask for directions to her mausoleum, which is higher up the hill, away from the throng of visitors and along the path by the side of the temple. When Kenreimon-in came to Jakko-in it was far removed from Kyoto. Now Kyoto's sprawl reaches this far and beyond, but the temple, hidden in trees, is still a place of solitude. From Kyoto Station take Kyoto Line Bus 17 or 18 for a 90-minute ride and get out at the Ohara bus stop; the fare is ¥480. Walk 20 minutes or so along the road leading to the northwest.