Erinji Temple

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Erinji Temple is one of Yamanashi’s most famous Zen temples. Founded in 1330, it is the family temple of Takeda Shingen, the famous warlord who ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from 1540 to 1573. The temple grounds are quiet and tranquil with many beautiful spots, beginning with the tree-lined entrance path (sando). This approach leads from the black-colored Somon Gate to the Kaizando Hall and other temple buildings; the gates along the path are perfectly aligned to frame the Kaizando Hall as you approach.

Many of the buildings burned down in 1905, but the bright red Shikyakumon Gate survived. The Shikyakumon was reputedly ordered built in 1606 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867. The gate is the oldest surviving structure in the temple and is designated an Important Cultural Property.

Erinji has a classic Zen temple layout: the central path runs through the Somon Gate directly from the entrance to the Kaizando Hall, with other important buildings arranged along the same straight line.

There is a garden with a pond at the front of the complex, but more popular is the landscape garden behind the main hall. Believed to have been designed by Erinji’s founder, Zen priest, and famous landscape gardener Muso Soseki, the expansive garden covers about 2,270 square meters. Incorporating the mountain in the distance into its scenery, the garden is especially beautiful in autumn and spring, when colorful leaves and flowers are on display.

Visitors can see the garden from the back porch of the main hall. Beside it there is a monument marking Takeda Shingen’s grave. The grave site is only open to the public on special occasions, but visitors can walk through the Nightingale Hallway in front of the grave. The passage is named for its nightingale floor, used for detecting intruders—it is designed so that the floorboards will creak loudly when walked on.


Venue Address

404-0053 2280 Enzan Oyashiki, Koshu-shi

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