Sanmon Gate of Daijuji Temple

Japanese Temple | Daijuji Temple


Do you know about Japanese temples? Daijuji Temple is a temple associated with Ieyasu Tokugawa. At 4T-AMKY, Teachers and Students write about Japanese culture, food, history, many spots to visit, and other stuff. Enjoy reading and knowing about deeper Japanese culture!

Daijuji Temple


Daijuji Temple is a Jodo sect temple founded in 1475 by Chikatada Matsudaira, the fourth Matsudaira generation. It is well known as the family temple of the Matsudaira family and the Tokugawa shoguns. It is located in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture.


When Ieyasu, the ninth Matsudaira lord, was 19 years old, he fled to Daijuji Temple when Yoshimoto Imagawa was defeated by Nobunaga Oda in the Battle of Okehazama (1560), fearing for his safety. When he despaired and decided to commit suicide in front of his ancestor’s grave, he was stopped by the priest. He was taught to “Onriedo Gongujodo” ‘厭離穢土欣求浄土’ (your role is to make the war-torn world a better place to live), and he decided not to commit seppuku (suicide). Since then, Ieyasu has adopted the motto “Onriedo Gongujodo” ‘厭離穢土欣求浄土’ as his motto for the rest of his life.

Many of you may be familiar with this episode as it was featured in last year’s historical drama series on NHK TV, in which the Daijuji Temple played a major historical role in saving Lord Ieyasu from a difficult situation. In the inner sanctuary of the main hall of Daijuji Temple, there was a splendid display of the Buddhist teaching, “Onriedo Gongujodo.” ‘厭離穢土欣求浄土’

Inner sanctuary of the main hall of Dijuji Temple
Sanmon Gate

The top photo is a sketch of the Sanmon gate facing the main hall. This gate was built in 1641 by the third shogun, Iemitsu Tokugawa. It is a cultural asset designated by the prefecture. On the Sanmon gate, there is an imperial inscription by Emperor Go Nara, “Daijuji Temple.” ‘大樹寺’ It is an important cultural property. The word “Daiju” is said to mean “general” in Tang Chinese.

From the main hall, you can see Okazaki Castle in a straight line through the Sanmon and Somon gates. The 3 km straight line connecting Okazaki Castle and Daijuji Temple is called the “Vista Line.” It is said that this view was created when Lord Iemitsu renovated and built the Daijuji temple complex, with the idea of ” viewing the place where my grandfather (Ieyasu) was born. This view is protected by city ordinance.

The view of Okazaki Castle that can be seen on a straight line through the Sanmon and Soumon gates of Daijuji Temple
The view of Okazaki Castle that can be seen on a straight line through the Sanmon and Soumon gates of Daijuji Temple
Bell Tower

In 1641, Lord Iemitsu built the bell tower. The large bell on the tower was recast by the ninth shogun, Ieshige Tokugawa. Every year, people line up to ring the bell on New Year’s Day.

Bell Tower of Daijuji Temple
Bell Tower of Daijuji Temple
Two-storied Pagoda

There are no buildings from the time of the temple’s founding at Daijuji Temple. The oldest building of Daijuji Temple is a two-storied pagoda built in 1535 by Kiyoyasu Matsudaira, the grandfather of Lord Ieyasu. It is said to show the style of the late Muromachi era (1336-1573) and is a national important cultural property. I felt the warmth and beauty of the building’s rounded architecture.

Two-storied Pagoda of Daijuji Temple
Two-storied Pagoda of Daijuji Temple
Main hall

In 1855, a fire destroyed the main building, including the main hall, Kuri (priests’ quarters), and Shoin (drawing room). It was rebuilt in 1857 by the thirteenth shogun Iesada Tokugawa, but due to frugality at the end of the Edo era, the scale of the building was reduced by 20-30%. It is said that the roof of the main hall seems somewhat low as a result of frugality.

Main hall of Daijuji Temple
Main hall of Daijuji Temple
Ancestors Matsudaira Eight Generations and Lord Ieyasu’s Cemetery

In 1615, Ieyasu constructed the mausoleum for his ancestors, the Matsudaira Eight Generations, within the temple grounds. In 1617, the first anniversary of Ieyasu’s death was held, and it is said that the present form of the Matsudaira family tomb was completed. In 1969, a tomb and monument were erected by the Daijuji Preservation Society to enshrine the relics of Lord Ieyasu.

Tablets of Successive Shoguns

The Daijuji Temple enshrines the tablets from Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun, to Iemochi Tokugawa, the fourteenth shogun. The height of the tablets is said to be in accordance with the height of the deceased at the time of death.

The tablet of Yoshinobu Tokugawa, the last shogun of the Edo Shogunate, is not enshrined in the temple. It is said that this is because Yoshinobu was still alive after he retired from the Shogunate, and in consideration of Emperor Meiji, he willed to be buried in a Shinto ceremony instead of a Buddhist ceremony.

Ieyasu, who died at Sunpu Castle on April 17, 1616, left a will: “The body shall be buried at Kunouzan on Suruga, the funeral ceremony shall be held at Zojoji Temple in Edo, the tablets shall be placed at Daijuji Temple on Mikawa, and after the first anniversary of his death, a small hall shall be built on Nikko Mountain in Shimotsuke to serve as a shrine for the eight provinces of Kanto.” I see why the tablets of successive Tokugawa shoguns are enshrined at Daijuji Temple.













大樹寺には創建当時の建物はありません。1535年(天文4年)に家康公の祖父松平清康が建立した多宝塔が、大樹寺最古の建物です。室町末期の様式を示しているそうで、 国重要文化財です。丸みを帯びた建物の温かさと美しさを感じました。