Jindaiji Temple 深大寺
Jindai is worth visiting not only for its historical significance, but for its grand temple buildings, hushed sylvan setting, the tiny "township" feel of the quaint soba restaurants and other shops leading up to its gate, and, not least, for its proximity to the year-round beautiful Jindai Botanical Garden.
Jindaiji Temple is a Tendai Buddhist temple and is associated with the warrior monk, Ryogen (912-985) AKA Ganzan Daishi, who is celebrated in the special daruma doll tradition of Jindaiji Temple.
Legend has it that Jindaiji was founded in 733 AD, making it the second oldest temple in the Tokyo metropolis after Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Jindaiji Temple takes its name from the first and third syllables of the god Jinja Daioh, which is said to be the god the founder's father prayed to when swimming to an island to be with the woman he loved - upon which a turtle appeared and transported him on its back. The resulting union between the lovers is said to have produced Jindaiji's founder.
Sanmon Gate Soba Shops
The Sanmon Gate is the main gate of Jindaiji Temple, and is well known for the soba noodle restaurants and souvenir stores just in front of it. Soba is a venerable Jindaiji tradition going back three centuries. The soba noodles - handmade on the premises from local buckwheat flour - come in different forms. Some feature pure buckwheat without the usual addition of one-fifth wheat flour. Each soba restaurant has its own twist, and all types are distinctive to Jindaiji. The history of this quaint assortment of old shops is apparent in the old architecture. Surrounded and shaded by trees, they make for a very atmospheric - not to mention great-tasting - entry to Jindaiji temple.
The Sanmon Gate itself, accessible up a flight of steps, is one of the few structures in the Tokyo area that date back to the Edo period. It is thatched in the style that originally typified all the buildings in Jindaiji.
Jindaiji Temple Buildings
Inside the Jindaiji compound there are two main buildings, the Honden main hall, which was last rebuilt in 1919, making it old for a Japanese temple building, and, a little to the east and on a lower level, the Ganzan Daishi hall where the priest Ryogen (AKA Ganzan Daishi) is venerated in effigy.
The Shakka-do (Buddha Hall) near the West Gate (i.e., to your left when entering through the main Sanmon Gate), is a small building that is home to one of Japan's most famous Buddha statues. The Hokuho Buddha here is in the style of Buddhist art that flourished in the seventh century, and was declared a national treasure in 1909. It is viewable only on the 8th of each month at 9 a.m.
Jindaiji Temple is well known as a temple at which to pray for success in relationships, specifically love and marriage.
Jindaiji Pet Cemetery
Jindaiji has a pet cemetery marked by a tall stone stupa. Read more about Jindaiji Pet Cemetery.
Jindaiji Daruma Festival
The Jindaiji Temple Daruma Festival takes place here every March 3-4. Jindaiji's daruma festival is different from other Japanese temples' daruma festivals in that the daruma doll specifically represents the 10th century warrior-monk Ryogen (912-985), and the filling in of the other eye once a petitioner's wish has been granted is done not with a simple ink dot, but a Sanskrit character.
Jindaiji Hours and Access
Jindaiji Temple is open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day. Free entry.
Jindaiji Temple is part of Chofu City so is best visited as part of a tour of Chofu, from Chofu Station. However, Jindaiji Temple is also easily accessible from the Chuo-Sobu Line stations of Mitaka and Kichijoji.
From Chofu Station North Exit bus platform no. 14 take a Keio Bus no. "Cho 34" (調34) bound for Jindaiji (深大寺行) and get off at Jindaiji (深大寺) bus stop. About 15 minutes. Or a Keio Bus no. "Kichi 14" (吉14) bound for Kichijoji Station (吉祥寺駅) or a "Cho 35" (調35) bound for Kyorin-daigaku-byoin (杏林大学病院) and get off at Jindaiji Shogakkomae (神大小学校前) bus stop (about 10 minutes), from which the temple is a 5-min walk. Or from bus platform no.13 take a Keio Bus no. "Kichi 14" (吉14) bound for Kichijoji Station (吉祥寺駅) or a no. "Taka 56" (鷹56) bound for Mitaka Station (三鷹駅) and get off at Jindaiji-Iriguchi bus stop, from which the temple is an 8-min walk.
From Kichijoji Station South Exit: take an Odakyu Bus bound for Jindaiji (深大寺行) or Chofu Eki Kita Guchi (調布駅北口行) and get off at Jindaiji Iriguchi (深大寺入口) bus stop. About 30 minutes.
From Mitaka Station South Exit: take an Odakyu Bus bound for Jindaiji (深大寺行) or Chofu Eki Kita Guchi (調布駅北口行) and get off at Jindaiji Iriguchi (深大寺入口) bus stop. About 25 minutes.