Historic temple of Zen Buddhism has many things of Chinese style in its vast grounds
Manpulu-ji is the head temple of the Obaku School, one of the three Zen sects of Japan. The temple was established by Chinese Zen master Yinyuan in 1661 during the early Edo period (1603-1868). It was built by introducing the architectural style of Ming dynasty of China and enshrines Buddhist images made by Chinese Buddhist sculptors. Because only Chinese monks served as abbots until the mid Edo period, the temple retains the Chinese pattern in its rituals and manners as well as in musical sutra recitation called Bonbai (song in Indian style.) Many other Chinese elements make its atmosphere different from other Japanese-style temples.
Somon (main gate,) Tennoden (Heavenly king's hall,) Daiyuhoden (main hall) and Hatto (lecture hall) lie on a straight line while other buildings such as Zendo and Saido are arranged symmetrically in the vast grounds. The group of Zen buildings is designated as an Important Cultural Property. A huge wooden fish hanging in a gallery is very eye-catching; it is beaten to announce the time of meal or sutra recitation.
Manpuku-ji offers fucha ryori Chinese-style vegetarian cooking (reservation at least three days before; at least two persons) which was brought from China by Zen master Yinyuan to respond to the blessings of Buddha. A good manner to appreciate a dish cooked using techniques of Chinese cuisine is to enjoy it with the eyes, taste flavor with the palate and eat it up. You can also participate in Zazen in Hatto, or transcribing the Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra. Zen experience in Manpukuji will remain a wonderful memory.
Address: 34-10 Samban-wari, Gokanosho, Uji City, Kyoto
Hours open to visitors: 9:00-16:30
Admission Fee: 500 yen (for admission)
Directions: Train: 5 minute by foot from JR or Keihan Obaku Staton (22 minutes from Kyoto Station)
Car: 5 minutes from Uji-Higashi Interchange or 10 minutes from Uji-nishi Interchange on the Keiji Bypass