Kai Zenkoji Temple

By Yuri Yuhara

Zenkoji is the name of two different temples in Japan: one is Shinano Zenkoji, in Nagano Prefecture, and the other is Kai Zenkoji, located in Kofu city, Yamanashi Prefecture.

Kai Zenkoji was built by Takeda Shingen, one of the most famous historical figures in Japan, to host several religious and art works belonged to Shinano Zenkoji. Takeda Shingen was afraid that Shinano Zenkoji would be destroyed in the middle of the battle of Kawanakajima and moved all the Buddhist treasures, including the main statue to Kai.

The main hall of the temple is 27m height and 59m length, the biggest in the area and is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property. Besides the impressive architecture, many Buddhists memorial tablets from Tokugawa clan, who ruled Japan after the Sengoku Period, are stored there.

One of the main attractions is the dragon painting in the ceiling of the main hall. By standing in the middle of the hall and clapping your hands visitors can hear a sound that is said to be similar to a dragon's roar.

Also, it is possible to take part on the Kaidan meguri (戒壇廻り), that takes place in a dark room located in the back of the temple. The kaidan meguri route was shaped on the format of the Chinese character , which means hear, spirit, and the main goal is to find a key attached to one of the walls, that is believed to be related to the Buddha Amitabha.

Kai Zenkoji
400-0806 3-36-1 Zenkoji, Kofu City


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