Japan Temples: Kaidan-in, Dazaifu
Kaidan-in, Dazaifu 戒壇院
Kaidan-in Hall (戒壇院) in Dazaifu dates from the Nara Period and was one of only three ordination halls for Buddhist priests in Japan at that time, the others being the original Kaidan-in, part of Todaiji in Nara and Yakushiji (now gone) in Tochigi.
Kaidan-in was founded by the Chinese monk Ganjin (688-763), aka Jianzhen, who made several attempts to visit Japan, becoming blind through an infection during one of them, before he was finally successful.
History of Kaidan-in
Kaidan-in was first built in 761 but the present buildings - the main hall or Hondo, a bell tower and small gate, date from the 17th century in the Edo Period. Kaidan-in was once part of Kanzeonji, but later separated. The Main Hall at Kaidan-in contains a Heian Period statue of a seated Vairocana Buddha (or Rushana Buddha) made of lacquer and coated with gold leaf. The Buddha is flanked by two standing Bodhisattvas. Kaidan-in is now a Rinzai-sect temple of Zen Buddhism.
The grounds of Kaidan-in hold an ancient linden tree, 39m tall, which legend has it was planted by Ganjin.
Kanzeonji, which appears in the The Tale Of Genji, was once Kyushu's largest temple. Only the bronze bell, the oldest such bell in Japan, and a number of amazing wooden statues remain from the 8th century.
Kaidan-in is located close to Komyozenji (光明禅寺) a Rinzai Zen temple that dates from 1283 during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333). Komyozenji Temple is known for its beautiful stone gardens. Komyozenji was founded by the priest Tetsugyu Enshin, a nobleman of the Sugiwara clan who entered the priesthood in later life.
The front garden is a dry stone garden whereas the rear garden incorporates plants and moss along with the stones and gravel and Komyozenji's rear garden is noted for its autumn leaves. The stones in the front garden are arranged in the Chinese character for light (光).
Fukuoka Prefecture 818-0101
Tel: 092 922 4559
Kaidan-in is a 10 minute walk from Nishitetsu Gojo Station. A community bus runs to Kanzeon-ji-mae stop.