Founded in 1393, the temple was moved to its current location in 1598, and served as the primary temple of the Tokugawa family. Most of the current temple structure was constructed in 1974, with the exception of the towering red-lacquered Main Gate (Sangedatsumon), which dates back to 1622, and is one of the oldest wooden structures in the city. The temple complex also houses a mausoleum containing the tombs of six Tokugawa shoguns, and a small museum displaying Buddhist scrolls. Also notable are the collection of stone jizo statues, a Himalayan cedar tree planted by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1879, and a giant 15-ton bell (Daibonshi) made in 1673. The temple is included in a number of Tokyo sightseeing tours, including walking tours, biking tours, temple tours, and photography tours.
Things to know before you go
- Zoji-ji Temple is an active place of worship, so be respectful during a visit.
- While it’s free to enter the temple, there are fees to enter the museum and mausoleum.
- The museum and a majority of the temple grounds are wheelchair accessible; the mausoleum is not.
How to get there
It’s best to use public transportation to reach the temple. The closest subway stations are Onarimon or Shiba-koen stations (on the Mita Line), and the Daimon Station (on the Asakusa Line). The closest JR station is Hamamatsucho (on the Yamanote and Keihin-Tohoku lines).
When to get there
The temple is open daily. The museum and mausoleum are closed on Tuesdays (and on public holidays). The temple is particularly beautiful during cherry blossom season in the spring. To see the temple at its liveliest, visit during a festival, such as Joya-no-kane and Hatsumoude over New Year, Setsubun in February, Gyoki-daie and Jizoson Daihoyo in April, and Jizoson Bon-odori in mid-summer.
The temple complex is surrounded by Shiba Park, the oldest public park in Japan. A lovely green space, there are also tennis courts, a baseball field, and an artificial gorge and waterfall. The temple is also located next to Tokyo Tower, which houses two observation decks, a Shinto shrine, wax museum, aquarium, and restaurants.
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