Zojoji Temple

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Place Category: AttractionsPlace Tags: historic building, temple, and tokyo

  • Profile

     

    Zojoji Temple

    Zojoji Temple is one of Tokyo’s most important temples. While it may not look wheelchair accessible, a large part of the temple grounds can be accessed by wheelchair users and those with mobility needs.

    BACKGROUND INFORMATION

    Zojoji Temple (Formally San’en-zan Zōjō-ji 三縁山増上寺) is a Buddhist temple located in the Minato Ward of Tokyo, Japan. It was initially built during the Muromachi period in 1393 and currently serves as the main temple for the Chinzei Sect of Pure Land Buddhism in the Kanto Region.

    Zojoji is known for its grand architecture and affiliation with the Tokugawa clan, who ruled Japan during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Six of the fifteen Tokugawa shoguns are buried within its Taitoku-in mausoleum, and its main gate is the oldest wooden building in Tokyo (est. 1622).

    Zojoji Temple also boasts a Treasury Gallery and houses paintings by Kano Kazunobu, one of Japan’s most renown artists from the early modern period.

    The temple holds annual celebrations at New Year’s (Hatsumode) and during the summer (O-Bon) as well as routine events like sutra copying and prayer sessions. It is surrounded by Shiba Park and sits in front of Tokyo Tower, making it an ideal location for sightseeing and relaxation.

    The temple is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00 and is free to enter.

    The Tokugawa Mausoleum & Museum have admission fees of 500 yen (mausoleum only), 700 yen (museum only), 1000 yen (both). The mausoleum of open from 10:00 to 16:00 (entry until 15:45), and the museum from 10:00 to 17:00. Both are closed on Tuesdays (except national holidays)

    GETTING THERE

    The closest subway stations to Zojoji Temple are Onarimon Station (Exit A6) or Shibakoen Station (Exit A3) on the Mita Subway Line and Daimon Station (Exit A1) on the Oedo Subway Line. All three stations are wheelchair accessible. Click the station name to see a station map.

    ACCESSIBILITY

    At first glance Zojoji Temple does not appear wheelchair accessible. The main Sangedatsumon gate has ramps crossing the threshold, but 2-3 steps before them.

    Zojoji Temple main entrance

    While an entrance to the left (when facing the temple) allows access to the temple grounds, entering this way leads to deep gravel at the bottom of the main stairs. While you can access the ramp to the upper levels on the right side of the temple (when facing the temple), the deep gravel makes the path difficult/impossible for even those using power wheelchairs.

    Zozoji Temple gravel

    Instead, it is recommended that wheelchair users take the small street to the right of the main gate (when facing the temple) which leads to a smooth entrance to the temple grounds.

    Zojoji Temple map

    Zojoji Temple side entrance

    This smooth road allows access to most of the grounds including up to the entrance of the mausoleum. Unfortunately, the mausoleum itself is not wheelchair accessible.

    Tokugawa Mausoleum

    The normal museum entrance is down a flight of stairs, but it can also be accessed by an elevator in the main temple hall via a small entrance (see picture below). The museum is fully wheelchair accessible and consists of one large room containing a scale replica of the temple, artifacts and art, as well as a small room for viewing a documentary (in Japanese) on the temple and replica. (Note that while the elevator does go up to the main hall, this floor is off limits to tourists as it directly connects to the inner area of the main hall.)

    Zozoji Temple museum entrance

    The temple office (located to the left when looking at the temple) has accessible washrooms but be sure to ask to be guided as some areas are off limits to visitors.

    Zojoji Temple toilet

    CONCLUSION

    Zojoji Temple is one of Tokyo’s most important temples and is also a beautiful place to snap pictures of the temple with Tokyo Tower, two Tokyo landmarks in one shot! Do not be thrown off by looks – while the temple may not appear accessible at first glance, 60-70% of the grounds are wheelchair accessible to one degree or another.

     

    Credits

    Special thanks: Accessible Japan would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to:

    • Mark Bookman received his B.A. from Villanova University in Global Interdisciplinary Studies in 2014 prior to researching Buddhist Philosophy as a Fulbright Fellow in Japan. He received his M.A. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, where he currently studies the history and politics of disability in Japan as a PhD student. When he is not working on his dissertation, “Politics, Prosthesis, and the Popular Imagination: 100 Years of Disability,” Mark collaborates with local advocacy groups to promote equity and access for as many individuals as possible and created Accessibility Mapping Project (AMP) at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Volunteer contribution help many interested visitors. Thank you!

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