Senkoji Temple


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Recommended Themes, Seasons and Activities

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Natural Scenery:Mountain and Valley, Flower and Tree
History:Shrines and Temples、Treasure Hall and Museum
Good Luck and Festivals:Spiritual Sites
The Arts:Mural Painting and Picture


Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter


Cultural Experiences(Pilgrimage of Eighty-eight Sites, Meditation, Amulet, Vermilion Seal)/ Look

Meet the wooden Buddha statues carved by Enku

Senkoji is an ancient temple founded approximately 1,600 years ago by Ryomen Sukuna of Hida Province. Some 400 years later, Shinnyo Shinno, one of the ten great disciples of Kobo Daishi, erected a new building on the site. Because the temple houses many Buddha statues made by Enku, it has become widely known in recent years as “the temple of the Enku Buddhas.”
At the height of its glory, the temple had nineteen buildings and maintained thirty branch temples within Hida Province. However, when Takeda Shingen of Kai Province invaded Hida Province during the Sengoku period, the temple was enveloped in flames and all of the buildings were burnt to the ground. The current buildings are said to have been reconstructed at the end of the 16th century by Lord Kanamori Nagachika, the lord of Takayama Castle.
The Enku Temple Treasure Hall is located near the Daijimon Gate and displays sixty-four of Enku’s Buddha statues. Enku is said to have carved 120,000 Buddha statues over the course of his life. He spent time at Senkoji and carved many statues there. He used local timber as his raw material, often utilizing the knots in the wood and the rough-cut cross sections in the condition in which he found them. The life force in the wood can be felt directly, so even today the statues continue to appeal to the hearts of visitors.

The Blood-stained Dragon Ceiling of the Main Building

The ceiling of the main building at Senkoji is called the Dragon Ceiling because it bears a portrait of two dragons painted by Kano Tansetsu. According to temple legend, a general of the Sengoku period committed suicide there by seppuku, staining the floor with blood. For the repose of general’s soul, the floorboards were incorporated into the ceiling of the main temple. Some time later, Kano Tansetsu visited Senkoji and painted the dragons on the ceiling.
At Senkoji, the objects of worship include not only the main temple and the priest’s quarters, but also the entire temple complex. For a stroll about the spacious grounds, we recommend that you start at the Gohon-sugi, a tight cluster of five cedar trees rising from a common base on the mountainside. At 1,200 years old, and with a circumference of about 12 meters at the base, the Gohon-sugi have been officially designated as a natural monument by the government. The five trunks growing from the single root are living beings, pointing at the heavens, and they make a stunning sight. Once every seven years, a Honzon Gokaicho ritual is held, and a sacred straw rope is tied around the five trunks at a height of ten meters. Starting from the Gohon-sugi, visitors can make a pilgrimage of eighty-eight sites on the mountain, with the full circuit taking about three hours. This is a mountain path you’ll want to walk at your leisure, filling your lungs with the mountain air.

Senkoji Temple


1553 Shimobo, Nyukawa-cho, Takayama, Gifu Prefecture


9:30 am to 4:30 pm


Enku Butsuji Treasure House Winter closing Dec. to Mar.


Enku Butsuji Treasure House Adult, 500 yen; high school or university student, 200 yen; elementary and junior high student, 100 yen




By taxi from Takayama Sta., about 20 min

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