Tokoji Temple

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Tokoji Temple is one of the Kofu Gozan or Five Great Zen Temples of Kofu, chosen by the warlord Takeda Shingen, who ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from 1540 to 1573. The temples were tasked with praying for the protection and safety of the province. Tokoji’s founding date is unknown, but it is believed that the Chinese Zen priest Lanxi Daolong restored it during the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

The large, unadorned wooden building in the temple’s front grounds is the Buddha Hall (butsuden). Built in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) in a style introduced from China, the Buddha Hall is the only temple building to have survived air raids during World War II. It is now designated an Important Cultural Property. The Buddha Hall contains Tokoji’s main object of worship: a wooden seated statue of Yakushi, the Buddha of medicine and healing, who is flanked by statues of his Twelve Heavenly Generals. The subtle Buddha Hall has a distinctive double roof made of layered thatched cypress bark.

Tokoji is popular for its magnificent garden, said to have been designed by Lanxi Daolong and located behind the main hall (hondo). Using the natural slope of the hill, lines of carefully placed rock draw the eye to the garden’s focal point: a small pond with a “waterfall” of rocks flowing into it.

In front of the main hall is a maze-like front garden with trees, stone lanterns, Buddha statues, and a pond connected by several branching paths. The temple’s tiered cemetery runs up the hill beside the main hall and features the graves of two prominent historical figures, Takeda Yoshinobu and Suwa Yorishige, along with a sweeping view of Mount Fuji. Yoshinobu was Takeda Shingen’s eldest son, who was confined to the temple after conflict with his father and killed himself there. Suwa Yorishige was the father of Princess Suwa, one of Shingen’s concubines, but after being defeated in battle by Shingen, he was captured and confined to Tokoji, where he too died by his own hand.


Venue Address

400-0807 3-7-37 Tokoji, Kofu-shi

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