JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.80

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Eiheiji Temple – Zen –

Eiheiji Temple ~Zen~

Eiheiji Temple is located in Fukui Prefecture, which faces the Sea of Japan and is nearly in the middle of Japan. It is known as one of most strict Zen temples in all of Japan. Eiheiji Temple was founded approx. 760 years ago in 1244 by Dogen as a place for monks to practice Zen Buddhism, which was brought to Japan by Dogen, who learned it in China’s Song dynasty, in the form of zazen, or seated meditation. The temple itself is surrounded by old cedar trees believed to be 700 years old and consists of around 70 halls and structures dotting the site. Among these, the temple’s shichido garan, a Japanese Buddhist term describing ideal Buddhist temple complex consisting of seven halls, feature important buildings that are essential to the daily practice of Zen Buddhism. Before dawn approx. 200 trainee monks begin their strict daily regimen of religious service, zazen, meal preparation and “zazen in motion.”

Visitors to the temple have the opportunity to view the monk’s devotion to their training.

Visitors to Eiheiji Temple also have the opportunity to learn about the mindset of Zen monks through not only zazen, sutra copying, and vegetarian dish (shojin cuisine), but also actually staying overnight at the temple to experience the exact same daily regimen a trainee monk undergoes.

Eiheiji Temple ~Zen~

Sabae City is located approx. 20 km from Eiheiji Temple and is where GSDF Camp Sabae, the only such camp in all of Fukui Prefecture, is located. The Camp mainly houses engineering units, but also a number of others as well, including an accounting unit, base communications unit, direct support unit, and security teams. As a subordinate unit to the GSDF 6th Engineer Group (stationed in Toyokawa City, Aichi Prefecture), the main units here conduct engineering work that includes transportation, road construction, maintenance, paving, and river crossing in rear areas using construction equipment. These efforts support divisions and the GSDF’s regional armies.

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