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Sojiji Soin Monastery 總持寺祖院

Working monastery with intricate buildings and overnight temple stays

Sojiji was founded in 1321 by Zen master Keizan (1268–1325), who is credited with spreading the Soto school of Zen Buddhism in Japan. Keizan made Sojiji a center of Soto Zen training and it quickly became one of the school’s two head temples. In 1898, Sojiji was completely destroyed by fire. Sojiji Soin (lit. “Sojiji Ancestor Temple”) is a monastery built on the same site.

Notable structures include the hatto, or Dharma Hall. The hatto is a wooden building that hosts special ceremonies and is adorned with gold, Wajima lacquer, and intricate transom carvings depicting the life and teachings of Keizan. Dentoin is the mausoleum of Keizan and is the most revered structure at Sojiji Soin. Dentoin honors Keizan’s spirit, although his remains are not buried here.

Visitors to Sojiji Soin can experience guided Soto Zen meditation. Those who stay in the monastery overnight can try longer meditation sessions and vegetarian Buddhist cuisine. Advance reservations are required. One of the priests speaks fluent English and German.

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