Temple 75, Zentsūji

第75番 五岳山 誕生院 善通寺
【History of the temple】
According to a text called Tado-gun Byoubu-ura Zentsu-ji no Ki (from the middle of the Edo period), Zentsūji was built by Kobo Daishi, who had returned from Tang Dynasty China. He built Zentsūji on a site donated by his father. It was laid out in imitation of Seiryuji Temple in Changan, where his teacher, the priest Keika, lived. The temple was called Zentsūji after Zentsu, Kobo Daishi’s father.

Sometime during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), the Tanjoin (birth temple) was built on the site of the former Saeki family (his family) residence. Until the Edo period (1603-1867), Zentsūji and Tanjoin were separate temples with separate head priests, but during the Meiji period (1868-1912), they became one temple, called Zentsūji. Today the temple is the head temple of the Zentsuji School of Shingon Buddhism and the 75th temple of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

The full name of the temple is Byōbuura Gogakuzan Tanjōin Zentsūji. Gogakuzan (Five Peak Mountain). This comes from the five mountains to the west of the temple: Koshikizan, Fudenoyama, Gahaishisan, Nakayama, and Hiageyama. The name, Byōbuura (Folding Screen Bay) comes from the appearance of the mountains which stand in a row like a folding screen. The name, Tanjōin indicates that this is the place where Kobo Daishi was born. Zentsūji, the birthplace of Kobo Daishi, has long been one of the three great spiritual sites of Kobo Daishi, along with Toji Temple in Kyoto and Koyasan in Wakayama.

The vast temple grounds, covering a total area of about 45,000 square meters, are divided into two parts: the East Wing, called the Garan, and the West Wing, called the Tanjōin. The Garan, where the Kondo, the five-storied pagoda, and other buildings stand, has been part of the temple since the temple's foundation. The Tanjōin, with the Mieido at the center, is the site of the Saeki family's former residence, where Kobo Daishi was born. Together, they show Zentsūji’s connections with Kobo Daishi’s birth and family life.

The original Kondo, another name for the Hondo, was destroyed in 1558 by a fire caused by Miyoshi Jikkyu, an important samurai of the Sengoku period. The present building was completed in 1699. The principal image, a seated Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha), is a huge statue, three meters tall, and was created in 1700 by Kitagawa Uncho, an Omuro Buddhist sculptor.

・Five-storied Pagoda
The five-storied pagoda is 43 meters tall and is widely known as the symbol of Zentsūji. Since its construction, the pagoda has collapsed and burned down several times due to heavy winds and fires, but was rebuilt each time. The present pagoda was rebuilt in 1845 by order of Emperor Ninko, and was completed in 1902. Statues of four of the Gochi Nyorai (Five Wisdom Buddhas) are enshrined on the first floor. The pagoda is open to the public during the holidays at the beginning of May every year.

The Mieido is built on the site of the residence of the Saeki family and has the principal image of Mehiki Daishi, made by Kobo Daishi himself. The present building was rebuilt in 1831 and extensively renovated in 1937. There is a 100-meter long Kaidan Meguri in the basement, a tunnel where visitors can unite with Kobo Daishi and remove evil while chanting the Gohogo sutra in the darkness.

Address 〒765-8506 香川県善通寺市善通寺町3-3-1
Telephone Number 0877-62-0111
Business HoursFree entrance to grounds (Treasure Hall reception open 8:00-16:30)
Days Closed for BusinessNo holidays
PriceTreasure Hall Adult (High School and above) 500 JPY, Child (Elementary and Middle School) 300 JPY
*20% discount available for groups over 20 people
Directions●JR Zentsuji Station
Approx. 30 minutes from JR Takamatsu Station to JR Marugame Station on the Yosan Line express train, 10 minutes with change to Tosan Line special express. 3 minutes from JR Zentsuji Station by car.

●Zentsuji IC
Driving directions: From the Zentsuji Interchange, turn onto Route 319 and head toward Kotohira Town. Turn right at the Nishihara North intersection and go straight on Prefectural Road No. 4 to reach the large parking lot on the west side of the temple.

●Takamatsu Airport
Approx. 50 minutes fro Takamatsu Airport by car
ParkingParking: Available

Word-of-mouth Reviews (TripAdvisor)
Website Website
RemarksLodging: Available (250-person capacity)