One of the oldest temples in Ezochi, evocative of the Edo period

About Usu Zenkoji Temple


Zenkoji is popular for its main hall’s thatched roof, evocative of the Edo period, and for its blossoms: cherry blossoms, vivid azaleas, dogtooth violets and other wild flowers in spring; about 1,000 hydrangeas of various colors and peonies in summer; and ginkgoes more than three centuries old and other trees that take on stunning colors in autumn. The temple also has a rare “rock-breaking cherry tree” growing out of a crack in a huge rock and a trio of cedars more than three centuries old. Enjoy your visit to Zenkoji, known by its neighbors as a temple of flowers.

Ennin, also known as Jikaku Daishi, enshrines an Amida Buddha statue in a small structure he builds in Usu, thus becoming the founder of Usu Zenkoji Temple, according to a publication entitled Ezochi Ousuzan Zenkoji Engi [The History of Ousuzan Zenkoji in Ezochi], a publication designated as a national important cultural property.
Tokugawa Ienari, the eleventh shogun, orders the construction of three government temples in Ezo of three sects associated with the shogunate: Zenkoji of the Jodo sect, in Usu; Tojuin of the Tendai sect, in Samani; and Kokutaiji of the Zen sect (Gozan), in Akkeshi. This construction has three aims: to keep in check those countries that are sending ships to the waters near Ezochi, including Russia, which is aiming to extend its frontier southward; to spread the teachings of the Buddha to the indigenous Ainu people in Ezochi; and to secure places for memorial services of shogunate officials and workers from mainland Japan who lose their lives while in Ezochi. The shogunate decides to build a new Zenkoji temple at the present location due to its larger area and its proximity to the Usu trading post, which is equipped with a wharf.
The entire temple precincts are designated as a historic site by the state.
The temple’s wooden printing blocks for official documents, sutras and Buddhist altar fittings—62 items in total—are designated as important cultural properties by the state.
Usu Zenkoji is designated as a Hokkaido Heritage Site.

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Usu Zenkoji Temple

Usu-cho 124, Date, Hokkaido, 059-0151
Tel: 0142-38-2007  Fax: 0142-38-2077  E-mail:

Admission and parking fees apply to buses; please pay 1,000 yen per bus to a temple staff member or at the Temple Office.