Cultural assets of Shizuoka City

Seikenji Temple Joseon Embassy Poems

UNESCO Memory of the World & the Joseon Embassies

What is the UNESCO “Memory of the World”?

Memory of the World is a project of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It aims to database and preserve historical records such as important documents, maps, and music that deserve preservation as memories of mankind, and to make them available to the general public.
A total of 333 materials on 111 matters from Japan and Korea, including 48 materials related to the Joseon Embassies that visited Seikenji Temple, were jointly submitted to UNESCO’s Memory of the World in March 2016 by two private organizations: Japanese NPO Chosen Tsushinshi Enchi Renraku Kyōgikai (the Joseon Embassy Related Site Liaison Council) and Korea’s Busan Cultural Foundation. On Oct. 31, 2017, following deliberation of the International Advisory Committee, the materials were chosen to be inscribed on the register. The inscribed name is, “Documents on Joseon Tongsinsa/Chosen Tsushinshi: The History of Peace Building and Cultural Exchanges between Korea and Japan from the 17th to 19th Century.”
Other registered heritage from Japan includes (dates registered in parentheses): 1. “Sakubei Yamamoto Collection” (June 2011) 2. “Materials Related to the Keicho-era Mission to Europe Japan and Spain” (May 2013) 3. “Midokanpakuki: The Original Handwritten Diary of Fujiwara no Michinaga” (June 2013) 4. “Return to Maizuru Port—Documents Related to the Internment and Repatriation Experiences of Japanese (1945-1956)” (Oct. 2015) 5. “Archives of Tōji Temple Contained in One-Hundred Boxes” (Oct. 2015) 6. “Three Cherished Stelae of Ancient Kozuke” (Oct. 2017)

What are the “Joseon Embassies”?

The Joseon Embassies were diplomatic envoys tasked with the important duty of exchanging official correspondence between the Joseon Dynasty (Korea) and the Tokugawa Shogunate. Although they had severed diplomatic relations following the invasion of Joseon by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, rapprochement was achieved when the Joseon Dynasty accepted Tokugawa Ieyasu’s wishes to restore them. Thereafter, the Joseon Embassies visited Japan 12 times between 1607 and 1811, sent by the Joseon Dynasty at the request of Japan when new Tokugawa shoguns assumed their position. Exchange between Japanese and the embassies, who traveled roundtrip over land and sea between Seoul and Edo, occurred at various points throughout Japan. Seikenji Temple in Okitsu, Shimizu Ward was one of the foremost sites for cultural exchange.

A National Garden of Scenic Beauty

A National Garden of Scenic Beauty

Seikenji Temple & the Joseon Embassies

Called "Kogōsan Seikenkōkokuzenji" in full, Seikenji Temple is said to have been erected during the Nara period (710-794) as the temple of Kiyomigaseki, a checkpoint along the Tokaido Road.
A tall hill looms to the rear of the temple, the location of which afforded spectacular views of Kiyomigata and Miho no Matsubara. It was also a strategic spot for transport, and thus guarded by influential military commanders of their time such as Ashikaga Takauji, Imagawa Yoshimoto, Takeda Shingen, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Throughout the Edo period (1603-1868), it continued to receive the guardianship of Tokugawa Ieyasu and successive generations of Tokugawa shoguns.
The garden is said to have been landscaped by Yamamoto Dosai in the early Edo period. Ieyasu was particularly fond of it, having stones moved from Sumpu Castle to be placed in the garden, and planting a Japanese emperor oak tree there himself.
The high waterfall to the garden’s northeast is called the Kukyokusen (“nine-curve spring”), and feeds the garden’s pond. The broom-marked spread of fine pebbles in the garden serves as an expression of nature.
The Joseon Embassies also admired this garden, and included descriptions of its waterfall, pines, and vegetation such as fiber bananas in the poems they composed. They also praised the plum tree outside the head monk’s chambers, called the Garyubai, as well as the beautiful scenes encompassing the sea and sky that spread before them.
Seikenji Temple was also used as a guesthouse for the Joseon Embassies, accommodating them overnight on their first and third visits to Japan. It continued to be used as a rest stop after this, as well. On these occasions, cultural exchanges were made between the head priest of Seikenji Temple and the Embassies, whose hengaku plaques as well as a great number of poems have been preserved at the temple.
In 1994, Fukuzenji Temple in Tomonoura, Fukuyama city (Hiroshima prefecture) and Honrenji Temple in Ushimado, Setouchi city (Okayama prefecture), which like Seikenji Temple have preserved documents from the Joseon Embassies, were also designated as national historic sites related to the Joseon Embassies.
The approx. 69 materials related to the Joseon Embassies which belong to Seikenji Temple were registered as Shizuoka Prefecture Designated Tangible Cultural Properties (historical materials) in 2006, under the name “Seikenji Joseon Embassy-related Materials.”
In Oct. 2017, 48 of the “Seikenji Joseon Embassy-related Materials” were inscribed, along with materials from elsewhere in Japan and Korea, on the UNESCO Memory of the World register.

National Place of Scenic Beauty: Seikenji Temple Garden, registered Sept. 3, 1936
National Historical Site: Joseon Embassy site inside Okitsu Seikenji complex, registered Oct. 11, 1994
Prefecture Designated Tangible Cultural Property: Seikenji Joseon Embassy-related materials, registered March 31, 2006
UNESCO Memory of the World: Seikenji Temple Joseon Embassy poems (48 works total) jointly submitted by Japan and Korea, registered Oct. 31, 2017

Seikenji Temple Gate

Seikenji Temple Gate

*The content on this page is adapted from the following works on the Seikenji Temple Joseon Embassy poems:
“Artifacts and Pictorial Records of the Joseon Embassies in the Collection of Seikenji Temple,” City of Shizuoka and Chosen Tsushinshi Bunka Jigyokai (Joseon Embassy Cultural Program Association), 2006
“Compilation of Joseon Embassy documents, Collection of Seikenji Temple,” Seikenji Temple, 2015
*Permission is necessary about use of Seikenji Temple-related image to publish in these contents. Please refer to Shizuoka City cultural assets section (054-221-1066) for the use of these contents.
*The numbers (No.) of the materials correspond to the order of the register application list for the 48 materials/30 matters registered in the Memory of the World.

UNESCO Memory of the World Register, Seikenji Temple Joseon Embassy Poems, 48 works

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