Hokkyoso guesthouse - Mr. Takahiro Okumura

About Eiheiji Temple
An introduction of 'the birthplace of Zen' from locals

Eiheiji was founded in 1244 by Koso Dogen Zenji as the first Zen training center of the Soto Zen School and for the members of the temple community. Dogen Zenji vigorously guided the monks in training and laid down the regulations called 'Shingi', which were to be observed. Even today, some 200 monks are devoting themselves to studying Buddhism. Daihonzan Eiheiji, the head temple of more than 15,000 branch temples throughout the nation, has been providing facilities to serve numerous worshippers and visitors.

Recommendations and highlights

Speaking of Eiheiji Shichidogaran (the seven main buildings on the temple compound)

In the heart of more than 70 halls and buildings, Shichidogaran (seven major structures of the temple's compound) are characterizing Zen school construction consisting of a main gate, a Buddha hall, a lecture hall, a meditation hall, a kitchen-cum-office, a bathing room and a lavatory. This way of arrangement and placement is said to be representing the shape of those who do Zazen. On a side note, the meditation hall, the bathing room and the lavatory are 3 designated silent training rooms; any private conversation is prohibited.

Welcoming people at the temple entrance path - Mr. Etsuo Yamaguchi

Plenty of treasures - Ruri Shobo Kaku

Ruri Shobo Kaku is the treasure house of Eiheiji. Starting with a treasure of national heritage 'Fukan Zazengi', the handwriting of Dogen Zenji, several thousands of precious artifacts like calligraphies, paintings, books, potteries and ancient manuscripts are displayed here. The invaluable nature of the contents is obvious but the wonderful thing is, that pieces are provided for public viewing and reading!

A collector of antiques in the temple town - Mr. Komaichi Yamakawa

The ever shining Corridor

Training of Zen lies in every aspects of daily life. Because this teaching is practiced, the corridors and wooden steps of the stairs are always polished every day. Hence, they are shiny whenever you visit there. Cleaning and sweeping every day is considered 'Zazen in motion'.

I love Eiheiji with its red leaves in autumn - Ms. Shimada

Don't miss the exquisite carvings

The halls in the precinct are dotted with exquisite pieces of carving. Please look all over the halls from your feet to the ceilings. The temple carpenters who made these works gathered to live in the so-called carpenters' village, stretching from the left side of the approach way of the temple. The descendants of the original wood workers and engravers are still living here today.

Engraver in the carpenter's village - Mr. Nakaya

Become a good cook!? A Giant Surikogi (wood pestle)

A giant surikogi (wood pestle) is 4 meters tall with a 1 meter girth and is hung in front of the 'Daikuin' (grand kitchen) This shows the teaching of Zen, that eating and table manners themselves are part of the Buddhist training. By touching this surikogi 3 times by hand, it is said that women will become good cooks and men will be good at showing gratefulness. Please do not put coins into the cracks.

Chat loving bee in town - Ms. Akiko Shimizu

Can you find them…? The ceiling pictures of Sansho Kaku

230 pieces of paintings are embedded over the entire ceiling of Sansho Kaku hall. It is said that if you can find (other than birds), 3 distinct animals on 5 paintings (2 carps, 2 lions and a squirrel) your wish will come true. I could find all and prayed for scores of visitors to come to our place and touch the glass beads. Please try and find those paintings!

Experience the glass bead making at Shikinomori Bunkakan. Everyone is welcomed! - Mr. Ryouji Asano

A 'couple' of cedar trees - a marriage in perfect harmony

Going up the riverside route, which was the temple's approach in the old days, you will see tall cedar trees standing next to the monument of 'Ryumon' (Dragon gate). Near the base of the trunks, part of 2 cedar trees have grown into one. They have been named 'the married couple cedar'. Whenever I see the figure showing husband and wife as one body, I feel and recall that my husband and I are happy together.

Always happy together - Ms. Sachiko Ozeki

Experience real training - the morning tasks

If you visit the temple in the daytime, you might not witness any characteristic scene of training. However, there is a way: You can participate in the training in the morning, called 'morning chores'. You can take part in the morning task, by staying overnight in town, or visiting early in the morning such as 5 am. Please come and experience the real Eiheiji.

Running an inn at the birthplace of Zen - Mr. Ryuji Inoue

Tell us an inside story! Guided tour of the halls

You can visit and walk around the suggested route. However, 'Unsui', monks under training, can also show you around. Ask for the guided tour and they might give you detailed insight such as the story of the Seven Wonders, which has been passed down from old days. If you are interested, please contact the temple office beforehand.

Supporting guide volunteer - Ms. Kayoko Nakamura

Jakkoen - showing ancient history

Starting at Eiheiji and walking up along the side of the small river, you will get to 'Jakkoen'. There you can find the Jakusho Bell that you can strike anytime as well as a statue of Dogen Zenji in his younger days. Further upstream from there, you will get to a place with a very solemn atmosphere. Dogen Zenji and his successors' tombs are erected there.

Operating the town's post office, which was built in the Meiji period - Mr. Makoto Watanabe