Eiheiji (永平寺) is a small town in Fukui prefecture famous for its impressive temple of the same name.
The main attraction in the town is Eiheiji Temple, which was established in 1244 by Zen Master Dogen and is the head temple of the Soto Zen school.
A famous poem by Dogen:
- To study the way is to study the self.
- To study the self is to forget the self.
- To forget self is to be enlightened by all things.
- To be enlightened by all things is to remove the obstacles between
- oneself and others.
Eiheiji is located about 15 km from Fukui City; either take a direct bus from Fukui Station (4 daily, 30 min, 720¥) or a train to Eiheiji-Guchi (25min, 440¥) and then a connecting bus (15min, 410¥).
It's possible to leave Kanazawa (north) or Kyoto (southwest) in the early morning by train and get to the temple by noon. Ask the bus driver to notify you when you arrive; there are several stops called "Eiheiji-something", which can be confusing.
Anything of interest to travelers is within walking distance of the monastery.
- Eiheiji Temple. An extremely impressive structure totally constructed from wood and with intricate frescoes decorating the inner walls. The atmosphere of tranquility is further enhanced by a stream that flows through the inner court yards. The temple is a true testament to the ability of the ancient Japanese to fuse architecture and nature in a seamless and timeless endeavor.
It is important to note that unless you are admitted to the meditation programs, the only parts of the temple complex open to tourists are the Treasure Hall (a small museum containing scrolls and statues), and the entrance hall containing the information centre. There is also a graveyard outside the walls. The main buildings of the temple complex and Eiheiji temple itself are not open to the public.
- Meditation. Visitors can apply to attend a two-day (sanrosha) or three-day (sanzensha) meditation training program  at Eiheiji Monastery. Since the 3-day program is quite strenuous, applicants must have long Zazen (meditation) experience to gain admittance. While the program is advertised as 2 or 3 days, it is in fact less as the first day activities start 4PM with those on the final day ending at 10AM. During the full days there is 3:30AM wakeup until 9:30PM lights out. Gaining admission for the program requires faxed permission from the temple before arriving, and applications must be made at least a month in advance. There are several possible dates in any month for a stay, and it is possible to take the meditation training in English.
- Books and esoteric stuff can be bought at the temple.
- Souvenir biscuits, cakes and trinkets related to the temple are available in the town.
- There are several small restaurants on the main streets.
- Accommodation is available at the monastery for ¥8000 per night (¥3000 per night for stays of more than a few days or those admitted to the meditation programs), and at the same time guests can experience the training methods of the Soto Zen tradition. Tel:+81 776 63-3640 / 3631.
- There are several hotels in the town.
- Ono. A historic castle town.