Japan Atlas: Historic Sites 
Eiheiji Temple

Location: Eiheiji Town, Fukui Pref.

 Founded in 1244 by Priest Dogen

 Status: The Head Temple of Soto Sect

 Area of the premises:
Approx. 100,000 sq m (24.7 acres)



The Center for Training Zen Priests with 750-year Tradition 

The Zen sect of Buddhism places its foundation of ascetic practices in silent contemplation called za-zen (Zen meditation). In Zen meditation, one sits up right, drives any distracting ideas away, and concentrates his attention to attain the ideal state of supreme enlightenment in a perfect serenity of mind. Priest Dogen (1200-54) studied the Soto sect, a school of the Zen sect, in China and introduced it to Japan. And in 1244, he opened Eiheiji Temple in the mountainous site in Fukui Prefecture as a place for training and education of Zen monks. Stepping through the main gate into the temple precincts surrounded by Japanese cedar trees, some of which are said to be about 600 years old, one can feel stillness and tenseness which could not be felt in the midst of boisterous and worldly life. The spirit of Zen taught in Eiheiji Temple has been inherited successively. As a result, the temple now has 15,000 branch temples and approximately 8 million followers in Japan. 

Today in Eiheiji Temple, over a hundred trainee monks from all over the country are working hard every day in training. They wake up at four in the morning and go to bed at nine in the evening. In their waking hours, they lead well-regulated life of Zen meditation, reading sutra, and every-day duties such as cleaning, following austere disciplines. Everything in daily life is part of training. The temple also accepts those who want to temporarily practice Zen meditation only with advanced permission. If accepted, one can experience three to seven days of training that follows the daily schedule of regular trainee monk. 

Photos: (Top) Hatto (the lecture hall) of Eiheiji Temple (Ministry of Foreign Affairs); (middle) hujaku-mon, one of the gates in the temple premises (Fukui Prefecture).

Unauthorized reproduction of the photos in this page is prohibited.

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