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 TempleUsu-cho 124, Date, Hokkaido, 059-0151
Tel: 0142-38-2007 Fax: 0142-38-2077 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Admission and parking fees apply to buses; please pay 1,000 yen per bus to a temple staff member or at the Temple Office.