Sengaku-ji Temple, Minato, Japan 

Sengakuji is a famous and popular Buddhist temple known throughout Japan.

There are numerous Buddhist lineages and Sengakuji belongs to the “Soto” Zen school. Soto Zen has two large main temples, Eiheiji on the northwest coast and Sojiji near Tokyo. Zen Master Dogen introduced the Soto lineage to Japan and founded Eiheiji. Master Dogen’s main written work, “Shobogenzo”, expresses his understanding of Buddhist practice and doctrine. Currently there are many translations available.

Buddhist teachings inform that all of us can actually live as Buddha by acting sincerely and being guided by all–embracing wisdom and deep compassion. Master Dogen taught that Zazen(Buddhist meditation), when practiced beyond discriminating consciousness, is the very present realization of Buddha. He widely recommended Zazen and it was his firm belief and cherished wish that this practice could form the base of an authentic “Way” or means of salvation.

Sengakuji was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of Edo era, in 1612 near Edo Castle as an establishment of Dogen’s tradition. However, after only 30 years, it was devastated by fire and this led to a reconstruction at the present site.

Sengakuji is now regarded as a temple closely related to the Ako Gishi, but it was in fact one of the three principle temples of Edo(old Tokyo) and known in its own right as a prestigious Buddhist institution. Many dedicated monks gathered from all over Japan (it was said that numbers sometimes reached 200) to deepen their practice and study. To this day this tradition continues. Numbers are considerably less, but young training monks still practice here whilst studying Buddhism at university.

Epic Japan Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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