Shofukuji Temple

Attraction 6-1 Gokushomachi Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture 812-0037 Japan Published on: 26-02-2016

1 hour
08:00 AM
09:00 AM
Second-time visit
Temple & Monument
0.00 USD

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Shofukuji Temple is a Rinzai Buddhist temple in Higashimurayama. The Jizo Hall of Shofukuji Temple is considered to be the oldest intact building in Tokyo Prefecture.

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Why Shofukuji Temple is special ?

Shofukuji (聖福寺, Shōfukuji) has the distinction of being the first Zen temple constructed in Japan. It was founded in 1195 by the priest Eisai, who introduced the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism from China into Japan. Although the temple buildings cannot be entered, visitors can walk through Shofukuji's attractive temple grounds and observe the buildings from outside.

Before Zen's introduction to Japan, Buddhism has already had a long history in Japan dating back to the 500s. The new teachings of Zen, which Eisai amassed during his travels in China, promoted meditation and discipline as the means to enlightenment and became very popular with the samurai class, which was exerting political power through the shogunate government based in Kamakura.

What to explore at Shofukuji Temple?

The temple grounds of Shofukuji have many of the features of a typical Zen temple, and its wooden buildings have been destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout the centuries. There are a number of gates on the temple grounds, the most prominent of which is the Sanmon Gate. The large gate stands in front of a small pond and bridge and was most recently rebuilt in 1911.

Behind the Sanmon Gate a tree lined path leads to the Butsuden Hall, which holds a small wooden statue of the historical Buddha flanked by giant golden statues of other Buddhas on either side. The building's ceiling is decorated by a painting of a cloud dragon. Shofukuji has a number of other interesting buildings, such as a belfry and a hall dedicated to Eisai. More Buddhist architecture can be seen at a few smaller temples in the surrounding neighborhood.


How to get to Shofukuji Temple?

Shofukuji Temple can be reached in a short walk from Gion Station, one station from Hakata Station by subway (100 yen one way). Alternatively, from Hakata Station it is a 15-20 minute walk to the temple.


Selling points

  • Shofukuji Jizo Hall - Pretty and Historic
  • The traditional building in Tokyo
  • The oldest intact building in Tokyo
  • Unique example of Kamakura
  • Quite and peaceful stop
9 day self-drive trip in Tokyo for family with kids

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9.0 days
1,379.63 USD
Total travel distance
Number of places
28 places




6-1 Gokushomachi Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture 812-0037 Japan

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The Jizo Hall at Shofukuji Temple in Higashimurayama in the western suburbs of Tokyo is well worth a visit. It is architecturally the cutest building with its roof line and also has a wonderful tradition that goes with it. It is the oldest Zen temple in eastern Japan first built in 1278 with a major rebuild in 1407. The structure is innovative with strength and elasticity. We found a rack of shelves of small jizo statues to the left of the hall. These are for people who are sick. They can take one home for themselves or a sick family member and when they recover the jizo is returned and a new jizo is bought to accompany it. For such an important temple we were surprised to find almost no one visiting. The only other visitor there was a man from Osaka who had come to see it and was curious as to how we, a couple of gaijins, knew about it. My wife had singled it out to see from a book on Japanese Architecture. There is an unofficial information place at the sweet shop just nearby where they sell newly carved wooden jizos. The carvings have their hands together in prayer and a red ribbon around the neck. That’s a pretty good souvenir by which to remember the Jizo Hall.

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