May 20, 2012
When Yayoi mentioned that we were going to Fukui prefecture our people here in Ibaraki were quite excited about our visiting this "temple of eternal peace". This is a Soto Zen temple which was founded by Dogen zenji in the year 1244. One sees so many temples and shrines that they cease to impress, but this Buddhist temple is quite impressive.
Only the Rinzaiji temple in Shizuoka which we were very fortunate to see on an earlier trip to Japan (open to the public one day a year) in my opinion is more beautiful. It was where Ieyasu Tokugawa was trained as a child hostage and today continues to be a place of training.
Eiheiji is used to train both priests and lay people. Satomi Furuki who took care of us for the weekend practiced zazen or seated meditation here at one time as part of work. She was "whacked" many times when she failed to meet standards during this one day session.
Each priest trainee has one (1 meter by 2 meter) tatami mat on a raised platform on which they do zazen, and eat and sleep. The food is strictly vegetarian. Talking or reading are not permitted. They go to bed at 9pm and get up at 3:30am. They bathe whenever the date contains a 4 or a 9.
It is permitted to take photographs of the priests or trainees.
Click on Eiheiji Tera to see photographs on Picasa.