Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple

Temple within a giant cedar tree forest

The Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple, also called Doryoson, in Minamiashigara is a breathtaking Temple of the Soto Zen Buddhism. On the Temple area which was built more than 620 years ago,there are about 30 stunning ceremonial halls and other Temple buildings.The Temple is surrounded by an impressive cedar tree forest, which has grown since hundreds of years. A beautiful path leads from the village of Daiyuzan, through the ancient forest to Temple .

Although it is a pilgrimage site and one of the greatest Temples of Soto Zen Buddhism, few travelers know about it. The Temple and its surroundings are still a well kept secret.

At the Temple, novice receive their formal religious education to become a monk. On the Temple ground, there are 3 impressive halls which are worth to be visited, the Hondo, the Kaisando and the Myogakuhoden hall.

There is also another Sanctuary accessing after climbing a stair with exact 350 steps to a building called Okuniin. Reaching this small Temple hall, we recommend to stop a few seconds to breath, then put a coin into the box in front of the hall, ring the bell and put your hands together for praying.

All kinds of buddhism statues can be found on the Temple ground.
A peaceful and inspiring place with cedar trees and a small waterfall.

Map of the Temple ground

Lantern in front of the main building

Lantern in front of the main building

The founder of the temple, Ryoan Emyo was one of the highest Zen Masters in Soto Zen Buddhism.He built the Temple in consequence of the remarkable incident in 1393. "According to an old legend a giant eagle seized Ryoan Emyo`s ceremonial garment from his drying place and flew with it toward the Ashigara Mountains. The monk followed the bird to a place where he found his garment hanging upon a large pine branch. Beneath that tree Ryoan Emyo started to meditate. While he did so, a gust of wind lifted his garment, which landed right on his left shoulder. Taking this as a sign, Ryoan Emyo built the Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple at that location in 1394. The Temple is dedicated to the practice of Zen meditation and the education of monks. For 18 years Roan Emyo taught men and women the practice of Soto Zen Buddhism. He passed away on the 27 of March in 1411 at the age of 75."
In Japanese Temples as in Shinto Shrines, there are places to clean hands and mouth. They can be found in several places in front of the Temple halls. Before entering a Temple, hands should be washed there. Water which was used to wash the hands should not be spilled back into the basin.
Karasu Tengu, Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple, Minamiashigara

Karasu Tengu

Japanese Geta
Many worshipers have donated metal Geta sandals in honor of the Doryo and the Tengu. Some of them are gigantic, and some are tiny. They can be found right next to the Myogakuhoden Hall.
Kekkaimon Gate Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple, Minamiashigara
The "Kekkaimon" gate connects the way from the Pagoda to the Temple hall which is dedicated to Doryo a former monk, who transformed and became an eternal caretaker of the Daiyuzan Temple.
Temple Bell of Daiyuzan Saijoji, Minami-Ashigara
The Temple bell is used in the morning and on New Year's Eve by the Zen Monks in the Temple.

One day after the founder of the Daiyuzan Temple passed away, another mystery occurred at this place. The Doryo a former monk turned in front of the the people there into an eternal protector of Daiyuzan. He personally gathered everyone in front of the Main hall of the temple and announced that, with the teacher’s decease, his work was completed and from now on he himself would ensure the safety of the temple. According to the legend, his body was then engulfed in flames as he transformed. He reappeared with wings, holding a rope in one hand, a cane in the other, and standing on a white fox. Then he promised a life free of sickness and full of richness for those who sincerely expressed their prayers to him. He then flew toward east and was never seen anymore as a human. It is believed that Doryo is alive eternally and lives in the mountain as the protector of Ryoan Emyo’s followers and of all worshipers of the Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple.
Tengu
One of the most famous statues of the Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple is the Tengu. The Tengu is a winged powerful and wise being from the Japanese religion. The earliest pictures of the Tengu is a figure with wings and a long nose wearing Japanese Geta's (wooden sandals).  The former monk Doryo is also widely accepted to be a Tengu. There can be found different statues of the Tengu on the Temple ground like the Yamabushi Tengu or the Karasu Tengu.
Daishoin Hall

Daishoin Hall

Tahoto Pagoda

Tahoto Pagoda

Myogakuhoden Hall

Myogakuhoden Hall


Access

From Odawara to Doryoson (Daiyuzan Saijoji Temple)

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Hotoku Ninomiya Shrine - Hotoku Kaikan
8-10, Jonai, Odawara-shi, Kanagawa 250-0014, JAPAN
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