At Tokeiji, nature and architecture have encroached so far into each other’s territories that they have become one. The result is a feeling of well-won peace for both sides. Although several of the buildings here are closed to the public, it is really the gardens that most visitors have come to see- a tapestry of green, interwoven with the myriad colors of each season.
After it was founded in 1285 by the widow of Tokimune Hojo, the temple became famous as a nunnery and refuge for women until they could obtain divorce: hence it was often referred to by its nickname ‘Enkiri Dera’ (cut connections temple).
For close to 600 years, the temple continued to welcome women. Princess Yodo, a daughter of Emperor Godaigo became the 5th head nun of Tokeiji (after her brother Prince Morinaga was executed), and is said to have changed the color of the nun’s robes to imperial purple. Yodo was also able to get the length of residence required to receive divorce shortened from 3 years to 24 months.
The temple continued as a haven throughout the Edo Period, but during the Meiji Period it lost its right to concede divorces, and in 1905 Shaku Soen became the first abbot for the temple. One of Soen’s pupils, Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, who is buried here, is generally recognized as the man responsible for introducing Zen to the western world.
Official Website (in English)
Open Daily 8:30am-5pm (March-Oct.), 8:30am-4pm (Nov.-Feb.)
Entrance Fee: ¥200
Address: Yamanouchi 1367 Map