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Head Temples

Temple Name: Eigen-ji 永源寺

Mountain Name: Zuisekizan 瑞石山

Address: 41 Eigenjitakano-cho, Higashiohmi-shi, Shiga-ken, 527-0212 Japan
Tel: 0748-27-0016; Fax: 0748-27-1055


Eigen-ji was founded in 1361 by the lord of the omi domain, Sasaki Ujiyori 佐々木氏頼 (1326–1370), with the ascetic Zen master Jakushitsu Genko 寂室元光 (1290–1367) serving as the founding abbot. Jakushitsu practiced Zen widely in Japan under a number of masters, notably Yakuo Tokken 約翁徳儉 (1244–1320) of Kennin-ji and Yishan Yining 一山一寧 (J., Issan Ichinei; 1247–1317) of Nanzen-ji, before traveling in 1320 to China. There he trained under the famous master Zhongfeng Mingben 中峰明本 (J., Chuho Myohon; 1263–1323), then visted a number of masters on pilgrimage before returning to Japan in 1326. In Japan he continued his ascetic, wandering lifestyle until invited by Sasaki to take up residence at Eigen-ji. Jakushitsu is renowned not only as an accomplished Zen master but also as one of the best of the Zen poets. He has been honored with a number of posthumous titles, including Enno Zenji 圓應禪師, by Emperor Go-Kogon 後光嚴 in 1369, and Shoto Kokushi 正燈國師 in 1928.


During the disturbances of the Onin War (1467–77) many of the most eminent monks of the Kyoto Five Mountain monasteries moved to Eigen-ji seeking safer and more tranquil surroundings, and it was said at the time that “culture is now centered in omi.” A series of fires during wars in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries reduced Eigen-ji to ashes. In 1643 the Zen master Isshi Bunshu 一絲文守 (1608–1646) became abbot at the request of Emperor Go-Mizunoo 後水尾 (r. 1611–1629), and worked to restore the temple; he is honored as the second founder.


Eigen-ji has been head temple of the Eigen-ji branch of Rinzai Zen since the Meiji Period(1868-1912), with over 120 affiliated temples and a training monastery (sodo 僧堂) for monks. It is famed for the beauty of it autumn scenery.