On the back of a jizō, or a guardian deity of children, grows a shīnoki, a type of beech tree. In fact, there is a story about this tree and Taizō-in Temple, which we will tell you in conclusion to this guide.

The story goes back 600 years, when the third head monk of Myōshin-ji Temple, Soin Muin, opened Taizō-in Temple. To go back 600 years is to go back to the Nanboku-chō Period (1336-1392), when samurai would battle each other for political supremacy and take part in violent events like the Ōnin War. Suppressed by Yoshimitsu Ashikaga, Taizō-in Temple had at one point been all but destroyed. In mid-16th Century, the Zen monk Kinen restored Taizō-in,which was also during the Warring States Period (1467-1600) when even monks found themselves separated into enemies and allies. In this turmoil, the monk Kinen was assassinated.

Kinen was likely uneasy about the future of temples and on his deathbed he said, “As it may bring harm to the temple, I forbid you from making me a grave. Yet, future generations must still be allowed to pay their respects at the temple, so, plant my favorite shīnoki tree instead.” Thus, five shīnoki were planted in the temple grounds.

Without knowing the story behind them , these shīnoki trees look rather ordinary. But the shīnoki trees in Taizō-in Temple are special because Taizō-in would never have existed until now without a head monk like Kinen. The word “taizō” from Taizō-in is used when one has completed something and means to “keep news of one’s good deeds to themselves and not for the world to know.” I hope that you may also keep doing good without having to tell others.

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