Kai Zenkoji Temple

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Zenkoji Temple was established in 1558 by the warlord Takeda Shingen, who ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from 1540 to 1573. At the time, a war was raging in what is now Nagano Prefecture and Shingen, a religious man, wanted to protect the sacred Buddhist treasures held at the original Zenkoji Temple in Nagano. To distinguish the two, this temple is also known as Kai Zenkoji Temple.

The road to the temple leads directly through an impressive wooden gate (sanmon) and up to the towering main hall (kondo). Both buildings were most recently rebuilt in 1796, feature a matching red and white color scheme with gold detail, and are designated Important Cultural Properties. The cavernous main hall was designed to resemble that of Zenkoji in Nagano. The ceiling features a faded painting of two dragons. When visitors stand in a particular spot and clap, the echo between the hollow ceiling and the wooden floor sounds like the dragon roaring.

The temple’s main object of worship is a statue of the Amida Buddha flanked by two bodhisattvas. It is kept inside the main altar and is displayed to the public every seven years during the Gokaicho Festival. At other times, visitors can get close to the statue through an experience called the Kaidan Meguri. Behind the main altar is a small entrance with nine steps down to a pitch-black walkway underneath the altar. The path is in the shape of the Chinese character 心, meaning heart, mind, or soul, as it would be written in a single stroke. Visitors walk the path and eventually come to a padlocked gate directly underneath the sacred statue. Touching the lock is said to form a spiritual connection with the object of worship. The temple’s atmosphere invites solitary acts of quiet contemplation like this one.

On clear days, there is a stunning view of Mount Fuji from the main hall’s front steps, while the temple’s treasure hall contains several historical artifacts dating back to the Kamakura period (1185-1333).


Venue Address

400-0806 3-36-1 Zenkoji, Kofu-shi

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