Sho'okuji is a large Soto Zen temple in the castle town of Hiji on Beppu bay in Oita. It isnt one of the Kyushu Pilgrimage temples ( which are all Shingon) but I wanted to stop by to see the Sesshu garden there. During the Edo Period it was the family temple of the Kinoshita Clan who ruled the domain.
The Manyu garden has a massive pond, and it is said that Sesshu, who lived nearby for many years, possibly had a hand in its design.
In front of the main hall is the biggest Cycad in all of Japan. Said to be 650 years old it was originally in the garden of Otomo Sorin, the famous Christian Daimyo who lived further south in Funai and Usuki. The palm trees trunk measures 4 and a half meters around.
Behind the main buildings is what I came to see, a garden attributed to Sesshu, my favorite garden designer. It was a grey, rainy day which didnt help. Sesshu lived in the area to avoid the Onin War. In the temples treasure house are some paintings attributed to him.
This rather nice Senju Kannon was in another of the temples halls.