Zenpoji Temple in Tsuruoka City.

Zenpoji Temple 

Tsuruoka City

Dedicated to the worship of the gods of the ocean, Zenpoji Temple serves as a major destination of worship for fishermen and sailors across Japan who make yearly journeys here to pay their respects to the gods enshrined at Zenpoji. 

This large Buddhist temple was first established in 938 and is believed to be where Naga and Nagi, two divine serpents reside.  

Thousands of fishermen and sailors from across the country visit Zenpoji each year to pay their respects to the guardians of the ocean and in hopes of a safe and bountiful harvest.  This includes both small scale fishermen and also presidents of massive multinational marine corporations who's donations to this temple have contributed to the stunningly large and beautiful complex of Zenpoji Temple

The large complex of this temple features many buildings to explore and is a must sea for those with a fascination and appreciation for Japanese temples.  There are also four daily prayer sessions that are free and open to the public here where you can see dozen of priests in the main shrine in Zenpoji Temple. 

The schedule for the daily prayer session is as follows.  Each prayer session lasts for approximately 30 minutes.


-12:00 noon



Zazen meditation and Shojin Ryori, the traditional diet of buddhist monks, can be enjoyed here.  

Tsuruoka City is the only city in all of Japan to be home to two Five-Storied Pagodas, the most famous of which can be found on Mt. Haguro, but Zenpoji is also home to one. 

Quick Info:


Zenpoji Temple lies at the base of the Mt. Takadate mountains on the outskirts of Tsuruoka City.    

This location once had a direct train that serviced this temple, but now the only way to reach here is via taxi or rental car. 

See rental car options for Shonai here.

〒997-1117 Yamagata-ken, Tsuruoka-shi, Shimogawa, 字関根100


Fees and reservations may be required for entry into the temple and for Shojin Ryori.  


Zenpoji also hosts overnight zazen meditation programs where you can stay at the temple and experience the lives of the monks here.  

See below for more details.

Shojin Ryori in Zenpoji Temple.

Shojin Ryori at Zenpoji Temple 

Zen Meditation and Shojin Ryori at Zenpoji Temple

Zenpoji Temple offers special Soto Zen experiences led directly by the monks of this temple.  

Through this experience you can join the monks who will guide you through the halls of their temple and teach you about the deep history and spirituality of this temple.  

You will then be able to learn about and try a short session of zazen meditation in the same room that the monks meditate in multiple times a day under their gentle instruction.

This experience includes an experienced local guide who will translate and guide you along with the monks.

Learn more on our experience page found here.


Lodging at Zenpoji Temple

Zenpoji Temple also welcomes guests to spend the night at their temple and gain a rare look into the lives of the monks here.  

During, this experience you will take part in zazen mediation in the evening and morning with the monks, enjoy their delicious shojin ryori cuisine, and even take part in one of their ceremonies with the entire congregation of monks. 

Learn more on our tour page here.

The halls of Zenpoji Temple.

The interior of Zenpoji Temple

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