Area Guide

[Fukui] Daihonzan Eiheiji (大本山 永平寺): A Zen Temple Worthy of Visitation

Daihonzan Eiheiji

Journey to Serenity: Explore Daihonzan Eiheiji, Japan’s Sacred Zen Temple

Discover the tranquil mountains of Fukui Prefecture in Japan and immerse yourself in the revered temple of Daihonzan Eiheiji. Founded by Zen Master Dogen in 1244 CE, this vibrant center of Soto Zen Buddhism is a sanctuary for over 200 dedicated monks who embrace Zen practice day and night.

Zen Master Dogen’s transformative journey to China, where he studied under the guidance of Rujing, a master of the Caodong school, shaped his path. Despite facing resistance upon his return to Japan, Dogen found solace in Fukui Prefecture, where he constructed the humble temple of Eiheiji—a place of eternal peace. It was there that he shared his wisdom with disciples and created renowned works such as the profound Shobogenzo.

Prepare to be captivated by Daihonzan Eiheiji, an expansive complex consisting of 70 interconnected buildings. With ancient Japanese cedars and murmuring streams, this temple covers approximately 33 hectares, creating an austere ambiance that perfectly reflects the spirit of Zen practice. To fully immerse yourself in this profound spiritual realm, follow the guidelines of modest attire, shoe removal, silence, and respectful bowing.

Daihonzan Eiheiji stands as a symbol of Japanese culture and the birthplace of Soto Zen Buddhism. With a global following of 8 million devotees and over 14,000 temples, Soto Zen Buddhism thrives, preserving the teachings and practices of Dogen Zenji, one of Japan’s greatest philosophers and religious thinkers.

Enthusiasts of Zen Buddhism and Japanese culture embark on pilgrimages to Daihonzan Eiheiji, drawn by its unique lifestyle. The temple plays a pivotal role in the local economy and culture, hosting a diverse range of events such as festivals, concerts, exhibitions, and workshops, enriching the tapestry of Daihonzan Eiheiji.

A visit to Daihonzan Eiheiji is a must for those captivated by Zen Buddhism and Japanese culture. Witness the daily rituals of Zen monks and marvel at the architectural wonders and artistic treasures within the temple’s hallowed halls. Experience transformative activities like zazen meditation, sutra chanting, and vegetarian meals through the temple’s immersive programs, which require advance reservation and payment.

Conveniently located in Eiheiji-cho, Yoshida-gun, Fukui Prefecture, Daihonzan Eiheiji is within easy reach of Fukui City. Buses regularly depart from Fukui Station, providing a seamless 30-minute journey to Eiheiji-guchi Station. From there, shuttle buses conclude the pilgrimage, whisking travelers to the sanctuary in just 10 minutes. Alternatively, scenic local trains originating from Fukui Station offer a 40-minute route to Eiheiji-guchi Station, where shuttle buses await eager visitors, ready to transport them to this serene Zen haven.

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