Daizenji Temple

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The mountainside Daizenji Temple ascribes to the Shingon school of Buddhism and is also known as the Grape Temple for its long association with viticulture in Yamanashi. According to one legend, the temple was established in 718 after the priest Gyoki had a vision of Yakushi, the Buddha of medicine and healing, holding a bunch of grapes. Gyoki carved the sacred statue of Yakushi that is the temple’s main object of worship today. Gyoki also taught locals how to grow a variety of grapes, later known as Koshu grapes, for use as herbal medicine. The grapes are still popular today and the story is one theory of the origin of grape-growing in Japan.

The 85.5-centimeter-tall statue of Yakushi is carved from a single block of cherry wood. It is flanked by statues depicting the Nikko and Gakko bodhisattvas, also carved from single pieces of cherry wood. All three are designated Important Cultural Properties and the Yakushi sculpture is only displayed to the public once every five years.

A steep stone staircase leads up to the main hall (hondo), with stunning views over the Hikawa River and the valley below. At the top of the stairs is the Gakuyado. The building has an elevated room over the stairs that is open to the public and contains three sacred statues. Beyond the gate is a lookout point with a view of the Kofu Basin and the Southern Alps.

The wooden main hall building was completed in 1286, making it the oldest surviving building in Yamanashi and the entire Greater Tokyo area. It is designated a National Treasure along with the altar inside that dates from 1355, where the sculpture of Yakushi and two attendants are installed. Every year, Daizenji holds the Wisteria Cutting Festival on May 8, which is designated a Selected Intangible Cultural Property.

The temple’s monks still grow grapes and make wine, which visitors can purchase. It is also possible to stay at the temple in the more modern lodging house at the bottom of the staircase. Behind the lodging house is the temple’s landscape garden featuring a pond and a waterfall.


Venue Address

409-1316 3559 Katsunumacho Katsunuma, Koshu-shi

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