Zojo-ji Temple was founded in 1393 by the Jodo Shu denomination as the central monastery in the Kanto(east Japan) region devoted to the rigorous practice of the nembutsu(recitation of Amida Buddha’s name).
Zojo-ji Temple relocated to the present site in 1598 after Ieyasu Tokugawa, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, entered Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1590 to establish his provincial government.
After the start of the Edo Period when the Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan, Zojo-ji became the family temple of the Tokugawa family and an unparalleled grand hall was built.
Zojo-ji also served as an administrative center to govern the religious studies and activities of Jodo Shu.
In those days, its precincts covered an area of 826,000 square meters which also contained 48 smaller attached temples and about 150 grammar schools.
Moreover, as many as 3,000 priests and novices regularly resided here as students.
Nevertheless, as the Tokugawa Shogunate came to an end and the Meiji Era started in 1868, an anti-Buddhist movement swept through the country.
During Second World War, Zojo-ji Temple along with all of Tokyo was fire bombed and its main hall, attached temples, and the mausoleum of the Tokugawa family were destroyed.
Thus, Zojo-ji Temple was profoundly affected by political and social circumstances.
Today, however , its main hall and other structures have been rebuilt, and Zojo-ji Temple continues to serve as the main temple of Jodo Shu and central nembutsu seminary for priests and novices in the Kanto region.
Furthermore, it has endeared itself to the general public as both a great religious landmark in the metropolis Tokyo and a hub of religious and cultural activities.
Daiden(Hondo), which forms the core of the Buddhist compound of Zojo-ji Temple, was rebuilt in 1974 by combining traditional Buddhist temple architecture with modern architecture.
Enshrined in this hall is a large main image(honzon) of Amida Buddha(made during the Muromachi Period – around 14th – 16th century) with an image of the great teacher Shan-tao (who perfected China’s Pure LandBuddhism) at its right and an image of Honen Shonin(who founded Jodo Shu) at its left.
Enshrined in this building is the Black Image of Amida Buddha , which was deeply wprshiped by Ieyasu Tokugawa, the 1st Tokugawa Shogun.
Since the Edo Period, it has been widely revered as a Buddhist image which brings victory and wards off evils.
For this reason, it also used as a prayer hall.
・The Black Image of Amida Buddha is shown to the public three times a year (Jan. 15th,May 15th, and Sep.15th) with Buddhist services on those days.
・Praying in front of the image is available.(Ask at the office in Ankokuden)
・Services for aborted fetuses or still-borns are also available. (Ask at the office in Ankokuden)
・Charms and souvenirs are available for purchase.
[Mausoleum of the Tokugawa Shoguns]
After Ieyasu Tokugawa started to rule the Kanto(east Japan) region, he accorded cordial protection to Zojo-ji Temple as the family temple of the Tokugawa family.
Located in its precincts are the tombs of six Tokugawa Shoguns, Imperial Princess Kazunomiya(wife of ShogunIemochi), and the other wives and children of the Shoguns.
Nowadays, these tombs serve as a reminder of the prosperous Edo Period.