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Head Temples

Temple Name: Kogaku-ji 向嶽寺

Mountain Name: Enzan 塩山

Address: 2026 Enzan-shi, Yamanashi-ken, 404-0042 Japan
Tel: 0553-33-2090; Fax: 0553-33-2183


Kogaku-ji was established in 1380 for the Zen master Bassui Tokusho 抜隊得勝 (1327-1387), with the support of the regional lord, Takeda Nobushige 武田信成. The temple was first named Kogaku-an, “Hermitage Facing the Mountain” (the mountain in question being Mount Fuji), as Bassui preferred not to use the more important-sounding appelation “temple.” Despite the modesty of the name, Kogaku-an under Bassui attracted more than a thousand lay and ordained Zen students. In 1385 Emperor Go-Kameyama 後亀山 (r. 1382–1392) designated it a Kigansho 祈願所 (a temple to pray for the nation). In 1547, when Bassui received the posthumous title Eko Daien 慧光大圓 following a petition to the emperor by the great general Takeda Shingen 武田信玄 (1521–1573), the temple’s rank was elevated and the name changed to Kogaku-ji.


A conflagration in 1782 destroyed most of the buildings, but, after Kogaku-ji was named head temple of the Kogaku-ji branch of Rinzai Zen in 1890, large-scale restoration was carried out, and a ceremony marking completion held in 1908. Kogaku-ji presently has eight subtemples within its precincts and fifty associated temples elsewhere.

Its notable sights include the Middle Gate 中門 (Chumon; Prefectural Important Cultural Property), dating from the Muromachi era (1336–1573); the Dharma/Buddha Hall 仏殿兼法堂(Butsuden ken Hatto), built in 1787; and the temple garden.