Zenkoji Buddhist Temple Main Hall

Takayama Hostel Guesthouse Zenkoji Japan

Main Buddhist Altar

Takayama Hostel Guesthouse Zenkoji Japan

Main Hall or Hondo

The religious center of our temple is the Main Hall, or Hondo.

Here you will find the resplendant altar. Self-meditation in front of the altar is possible at any time.

Take some mindful time here to reflect deeply, and enjoy the peace of this space.

Takayama Hostel Guesthouse Zenkoji Japan

Kaidan Meguri

Kaidan Meguri literally means “Traversing the Path of Buddha“. It is also known as Jodo Meguri. Jodo means “Paradise” or “Pure Land” and is the foundation for this temple’s sect of Buddhism (Jodo-shu). There are over hundreds of temples in Japan that honor Buddha in our way, but only a few of them include the Kaidan Meguri. The most famous one is in Nagano Zenkoji. There, at the apex of the Kaidan Meguri tunnel, the oldest Buddha idol in Japan rests. We are a branch of the Nagano Zenkoji, and our Kaidan Meguri is modelled after it.

In the main hall of the temple, you will find a staircase leading to a dark passage. You will go down the stairs into the dark passage. Directly under the Main Altar of the temple, you will find a sacred lock. The goal of Kaidan Meguri is to find this lock, which is known as the Jodo no Kagi, or the Key to Paradise..

We human beings live in light. We take it for granted. We are not thankful for light. By entering the complete darkness, we must use faith to guide our steps. Trusting that your steps will be guided is an important part of Kaidan Meguri.

Quietly proceeding through the darkness one step at a time, you will find the ancient lock. This is the Key to Paradise. Take a mindfull moment here to enjoy the fulfillment of finding the Key. Behind the Key is a “hibutsu,” a secret Buddha that no one may look at directly. Touching the Key and saying a prayer can wash away your sins, and lay a path to the Goku-raku Jodo, the Paradise. So say a prayer there for sins of the past or for hopes of the future.

After having a peaceful moment at the Key to Paradise, continue slowly and mindfully through the darkness and complete the circle to the exit. This passage through the darkness is symbolic of death and rebirth, and of Buddhist enlightenment. You enter as a human with all your faults, experience the trials of the darkness, attain peace and return into the light. Perhaps it will be a bit brighter for you on the other side.