Located in a secluded section of Soja City, Hofuku-ji Temple is dedicated to the Rinkai School of Zen Buddhism. Founded during the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333), the temple played an important role as a religious center and school.
One of its most famous students was the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573) master painter and Zen priest Sesshu. Legend has it that when he was a child he was sent to study at Hofuku-ji Temple by his family.
Apparently, Sesshu did not take to the rigors of religious training and preferred to spend his time sketching. Angered by his lack of focus, a temple priest punished Sesshu by tying him to a post. Saddened, the young boy wept alone in the dark.
On his return to check on Sesshu, the priest who had bound him was startled to see a mouse near the boy’s leg. What the priest thought was a mouse was actually a drawing crafted from tears and a bit of charcoal from the floor.
In commemoration to its most famous pupil, there is a statue of the young Sesshu on the grounds in the seated position that he is so well known for.
Hofuku-ji Temple is also notable for its fiery vermillion three-tiered pagoda that sits splendidly on grounds lined with beautiful trees.
Access: From JR Okayama Station, take the JR Hakubi Line to JR Soja Station. Take the Chutetsu Soja Bus (Kanbara Line) to the Tatai bus stop. It is about a 15 minute walk to the temple. Alternatively, you can take an 8 minute taxi ride from JR Soja Station.
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