THE HEAD TEMPLES OF ZEN BUDDHISM.

 
Shobozan Myoshin-ji of the Rinzai Zen Sect. The head temple of the Myoshin-ji Branch, Kyoto.

A distant view of Myoshin-ji from Jikyu-an.

Kaisan-do. The grave of the founder.
Myoshin-ji branch is the largest of the fifteen schools of Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism. More than three thousand temples belong to this branch throughout Japan, in addition to nineteen Zen monasteries and several academic institutions, of which Rakusai Kinder Garden, Hanazono High School and Hanazono College are a part.
The temple was founded in 1342 by Zen Master Kanzan-Egen Zenji (1277-1360), under the sponsorship of the tonsured Emperor Hanazono. After the Onin Revolt in 1467, when almost all of the original buildings and gardens were destroyed, they were restored by the Zen Master Sekko-Soshin Zenji(1408-1486), the sixth patriarch of the temple.
The main buildings of the temple today were built within a span of 150 years after that time. There are now forty-seven sub-temples within the compound. Myoshin-ji also keeps many cultural articles, a number of which have been appointed National Treasure or Important Cultural Property by the government.
Reikisan Tenryu-ji of the Rinzai Zen Sect. The head temple of the Tenryu-ji Branch, Kyoto.
The temple was founded in 1339 by Zen Master Muso Soseki(Musou-Kokushi), under the sponsorship of the Shogun Takauji Ashikaga to console the late Emperor Go-Daigoin 1339.
Muso Kokushi was called the National Zen Master and was revered by all people. The famous garden called Sogen-chi was bult by Kokushi and represented his most important work.
The temple was destroyed several times by fire, and particulas, it was almost burned down in the war of 1864. It was gradually restored by a series of famous Zen masters, Tekisui Giboku, Gazan syotei, Ryoen Genseki, Seisetsu Genzyou and so on.
Zuiryuzan Nanzen-ji of the Rinzai Zen Sect. The head temple of the Nanzen-ji branch, Kyoto.
Nanzen-ji is one of the most well−known Rinzai Zen temples in Japan.  Emperor Kameyama loved this beautiful place so much that in 1264 he built his detached palace here.  Later he became a student of the Zen Master Busshin Daimin Kokushi,and he dedicated the palace as a Zen temple in 1291.  A characteristic of the history of this temple is that its abbot was always chosen as the best Rinzai Zen Master in each period.  As Nanzen-ji was above the Go-San SyStem,its influence on Japanese culture Was indeed great.
Kisshozan Eihei-ji of the Soto Zen Sect in Fukui.
Eihei-ji is one the Soto Zen's two head temples. It is located deep in the mountains near the rugged west coast of Japan, not far from Fukui City.
Dogen Zenji, the founder of Eihei-ji, was born in 1200 A.D. When he was 24, he when to China and devoted himself to true Zen practice under the strict guidance of Nyojo Zenji at Mt. Tendo. After having "dropped off both body and mind," realizing the way of the Buddha, he returned home in 1228. He lived at Ken'nin-ji temple for 3 years, then founded his first temple, Kosho-Horin-ji, in Uji, Kyoto. In 1244 Dogen Zenji and his followers visited Shii-no-Sho in Echizen (now Fukui Prefecture) to build a mountain temple. He was offered land and other help for this by Yoshishige Hatano, a samurai who was one of his most devoted lay followers. Dogen thus founded Eihei-ji, where he devoted himself to training his followers in the perfection of Zen pratice in every action of daily life. He died on September 29, 1253, leaving a number of noted books including the Shobogenzo, Gakudo Yojishin and Eihei Dai Shingi. Dogen Zenji's authentic Zen has been scrupulously observed by his successors. Even today, both priests and lay people devote themselves to his practice of Shikan-taza ("just sitting").

 

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