Daihonzan Eihei-ji

Kanazawa & the Hokuriku Coast

In 1244 the great Zen master Dōgen (1200–53), founder of the Sōtō sect of Zen Buddhism, established Eihei-ji, the 'Temple of Eternal Peace', in a forest outside Fukui. Today it's one of Sōtō's two head temples, a palpably spiritual place amid mountains, mosses and ancient cedars. That said, day trippers visiting the complex of more than 70 buildings might not find the constant buzz of visitors and activities as peaceful as they might desire.

Aspirants can participate in Eihei-ji's one-night stay or three-night sanzen-experience program, which follow the monks' training schedule.

The compound is often closed for periods varying from a week to 10 days for religious observance. Sanrō-temple stays cost from ¥9000 for a one-night stay to ¥20,000 for the full sanzen experience, and must be booked several months in advance.

To get to Eihei-ji from Fukui, take the Keifuku bus (¥720, 30 minutes, hourly); buses depart from the east exit of JR Fukui Station.