Eigenji Temple Founder’s Hall


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Natural Scenery:Mountain and Valley, River and Waterfall, Stone and Rock
History:Shrines and Temples
Good Luck and Festivals:Tradition


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A Zen temple among mountains, adorned with brilliant foliage in the autumn

With its cluster of buildings arrayed among the silent mountains overlooking the Echi River gorge, Eigenji was founded by Jakushitsu Zenji in the 14th century, during the era of the Northern and Southern Courts. It is said that, in those days, in admiration of Jakushitsu Zenji’s eminent virtue, more than 2,000 monks came to train at the temple, and that another fifty-six monks dwelt in the mountains. However, all of the buildings were subsequently destroyed by fire during civil wars, and not one building from the time of the temple’s founding still remains. The temple as it exists today was gradually rebuilt, starting in the middle of the Edo Period.
In accordance with the last wishes of Jakushitsu Zenji, who shunned worldly status, there is nothing within the compound that proclaims the temple’s high standing, such as a five-lined reinforced wall or the like, and the atmosphere is one of simplicity amid natural surroundings.
The massive thatched roof of the main temple, where the Yotsugi Kannon is enshrined as the principal icon, is made of reeds from Lake Biwa, and the building itself is one of the largest thatched-roof structures all of Japan.
The imposing Sammon gate, which stands astride the entrance path to the temple, took seven years to complete at the end of the 18th century, and it has been designated as an important cultural property of Shiga Prefecture.
During the autumn foliage season, the temple is illuminated for a limited period, and throngs of tourists come to enjoy the subtly shimmering grounds and the beautiful maples.

Pray to the Yotsugi Kannon for prosperity and the blessing of children

The Yotsugi Kannon that is the temple’s principal icon is rarely shown to the public, and worshippers cannot normally pray to it. Just how this figure came to be called by the familiar name “Yotsugi Kannon” is a story that has long been told.
One night, after an experience in which he had miraculously been saved from a shipwreck during his return from China, Jakushitsu Zenji was led into the mountains surrounding Eigenji Temple, where he discovered a small statue of the bodhisattva Kannon, about five centimeters high. He brought the statue back to Eigenji Temple as a protective deity and secreted it inside the crown of a clay Kannon statue from China. The story is told that some time later, a person who had not been blessed with children prayed to the Kannon statue every night, then had a revelation in a dream and was soon blessed with an heir (a “yotsugi” in Japanese). Word of this miracle got around, and ever since, worshippers have prayed devoutly to the Yotsugi Kannon for the blessing of a good heir and to achieve prosperity.
Strolling about the temple’s precincts, listening to the murmuring of the Echi River and the singing of the birds deep within the surrounding forest, one finds one’s heart is put at ease. In the interior of the temple grounds is the Kaisando (Founder’s Hall), where Jakushitsu Zenji is enshrined and an ink brush painting of a flying dragon looks down silently from the ceiling. (Entry into the Kaisando is prohibited.)

Eigenji Temple Founder’s Hall


41 Takano, Eigenji, Higashi-omi, Shiga Prefecture


9:00 am to 4:00 pm


Open daily


Adults 500 yen, children (junior high school students and younger) free




By omi Tetsudo Bus from omi Tetsudo Yokaichi Station Sta. to Eigenji-mae, about 35 min

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