Zenjyo-ji is a Buddhist temple with an over 1,000-year long history that datesback to the Heian Era (794 to 1185) and the powerful Fujiwara clan, whichruled Japan at that time. The original grounds served as a summer home forthe Fujiwara's, but in response to a devout request by Fujiwara Kaniei, theEmperor Ichijo instructed the head priest of Todai-Temple, Heiso, to officiallyestablish it as a sub-temple of the larger, more famous Kegon-sect temple.From the end of the 10th century, Zenjoji flourished under the protection andpatronage of the Fujiwara clan until the end of the Heian Era when it was re-designated as a sub-temple of Byodo-in and the Tendai sect.
One point of interest in regards to the history of Zenjyo-ji is this direct link tothe imperial family by whose edict the temple was originally constructed.
During the Kamakura Era and subsequent centuries, the temple fell intodisuse and neglect. However, in 1680, as the Edo Era began, the temple wasonce again re-designated, this time as a Soto Zen temple, and a dynamic andinspirational monk, Gesshu, who was appointed as the head priest. Under histutelage the temple re-emerged as a reinvigorated Zen temple. Through thefinancial aid of Honda Masanaga of the Kaga clan, Gesshu rebuilt the templegrounds and added a new Main Hall with a Zendo (a meditation hall fortraining monks). The main hall, which remains today and can be seen below,has a massive thatched roof, which is characteristic of temple architecture ofthe time.