The Shonen-ji temple complex is situated at the base of Genbuzan mountain, about 12 km outside central Takachiho. It was established here in 1578 by Tanio Yoshimura following the destruction of Genbu-jo, the Yoshimura clan's castle.
Genbu-jo was burned and the principal Yoshimura family members killed when the Christian daimyo, Ōtomo Sōrin, invaded from the north. According to temple records, one of the survivors, Tanio Yoshimura, experienced a revelation following the loss of the castle and committed himself and his successors to a religious life in atonement for the many deaths that had occurred.
A more detailed account, in Japanese, of the events leading up to the temple's founding can be read here. We hope to have an English translation of this document available in the future.
In accordance with Jōdo Shinshū tradition, the position of head priest at Shonen-ji is hereditary through the eldest son. The present head priest, Junsho Yoshimura, is the seventeenth generation of his family to serve at Shonen-ji. Shonen-ji is unique among Japanese temples in that the English wife of the head priest is herself an ordained Kiyoshi (senior priest).
In May 2006, Shonen-ji established a branch temple in the Kishi-no-Ue section of central Takachiho. The Kishinoue Kaikan includes a meeting hall, a mausoleum, and an English school.