Anraku-ji (Ueda)

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For other uses, see Anraku-ji.
Anrakuji Hakkakusanjyuunotou BessyoOnsen.jpg
Octagonal Three-storied Pagoda (National Treasure)
Denomination Sōtō Zen
Venerated Sakyamuni
Founded unknown
Address Bessho Onsen, Ueda, Nagano Prefecture
Country Japan
Coordinates 36°21′08″N 138°09′12″E / 36.35222°N 138.15333°E / 36.35222; 138.15333

Anraku-ji (安楽寺?) is a Buddhist temple of the Sōtō school in Bessho Onsen, Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is the oldest Zen temple in Nagano Prefecture. The main hall (hon-dō) has a thatched roof and enshrines an image of Sakyamuni flanked by Manjusri and Samantabhadra as principal object of worship. [1] Anraku-ji is best known for having the only extant octagonal pagoda in Japan.[2][3]


In the mid Kamakura period (13th century), Anraku-ji was the center of learning in Shinano Province educating many priests with the support of the Hōjō clan in Kamakura until that clan was overthrown in 1333.[2]

Buildings and cultural assets[edit]


The temple's three storied pagoda is the only extant octagonal pagoda in Japan.[3] Built at the end of the Kamakura period in Zen style, its lowest roof is a mokoshi pent roof enclosure. Its roofs are covered with hinoki cypress shingles. The inside contains an octagonal Buddhist altar which together with the pagoda and a munafuda ridge tag with information on the building's construction has been designated as National Treasure in 1952.[3]

Statues of Enin and Isen[edit]

Two wooden seated statues of priests made in 1329 by a carpeter named Hyobu have been designated as Important Cultural Properties: One depicts Enin, a Chinese priest who came to Japan with Shōkoku Isen to become the second abbot of Anraku-ji; the other is of the Zen priest Isen, who went to study in China in the mid-Kamakura period and returned in 1246 together with Rankei Doryū, founder of Kenchō-ji. Unlike later sculptures, both show a high degree of realism. They are enshrined in the Denpō-dō (伝芳堂) hall.[4]


The temple includes a Buddhist library after 1784. Built to store sutras copied by the priest Tetsugen purchased from Mampuku-ji, the building is 5.4 m (18 ft) square, plastered and has a copper roof. Inside, it contains an octagonal revolving sutra shelf (rinzō) said to have been designed by the Great Teacher Fu (傅大師 Fu Daishi?). The building and rinzō have been designated as Cultural Assets of Ueda City.[5]

Bell tower[edit]

Built in 1769 in a mix of Zen and Japanese style, the two-storey bell tower (shōrō) with a skirt like lower storey (hakamagoshi type) is one of the largest in the area. The original Edo period bell was used as scrap metal in World War II. The present bell was cast by Katori Masahiko in 1957.[6]


In 1693 important men of Shioda district decided to have Buddhas similar to those on the Shikoku 88-temple pilgrimage, so that they could acquire the same merit without going on a pilgrimage to Shikoku. They had statues made in Kyoto and distributed to various temples in Shioda. Out of 88 images, 7 are found at Anraku-ji. In addition, the temple owns a set of sixteen rakan (i.e. arhat) also from the Edo period.[6][6]

A letter from Rankei Doryū to Shōkoku Isen written in classical Chinese showing the close relationship between the two is held by the temple:[5]

Dear Brother Isen. I hear there has been trouble among priests during the summer training here in Kenchō-ji. I ask you to please come back as soon as possible for things are getting worse because of your absence. Let us discuss the problems face to face.

— Sincerely, Rankei

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 本堂 [Hon-dō] (in Japanese). Anraku-ji. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  2. ^ a b "Anrakuji Temple". Anraku-ji. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  3. ^ a b c "Octagonal three storied pagoda (National treasure)". Anraku-ji. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  4. ^ "Statue of Yogyu Enin, Statue of Shokoku Isen". Anraku-ji. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  5. ^ a b "Kyozo". Anraku-ji. Retrieved 2011-07-04. 
  6. ^ a b c "The sixteen Rakans and the seven Buddhas from Shikoku Island". Anraku-ji. Retrieved 2011-07-04.