Shofokuji Temple

Shofokuji Temple

This National Historic Site in Fukuoka has quite an interesting background. Born in 1141, Myoan Eisai, a monk of the Tendai sect, became dissatisfied with what he considered to be the degenerated state of Buddhism in Japan. He traveled to China twice in search of more authentic teachings.  On his second trip, he studied under a Chan master. He returned to Japan in 1191 and landed on the Hirado island off the coast of Nagasaki bringing Zen scriptures and tea seeds. This is the reason Hirado claims to be the first place in Japan to grow and use tea.

This temple was affected greatly by the destruction that came with World War II. Check out the impressive Korean-style bell and belfry and the huge Sanmon Gate. The buildings cannot be entered; however, you can peer inside the Butsudan and see the statues. Look for the carved plaque that is hung above the gate proclaiming this to be the first Zen temple in Japan. The gate itself was donated by retired Emperor Gotoba.

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Kristal Ham

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