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Photo By: PIXTA/ ゆう
Largest City

Sofukuji Temple

By Alma Reyes

The city of Nagasaki is predominantly identified with the horrific nuclear attack in 1945. This historical phenomenon and the trade relations with Portuguese and Dutch explorers in the 16th to 19th centuries have made the fifth-largest city in Kyushu immensely intercultural.

Owing to its strategic seaport location accessible to Korea and China and the desire of the Chinese people in the late 1500s to early 1600s to counterbalance the domination of Christian presence at that time, Chinese temples were erected in the region. Among them is the ancient Sofukuji Temple, built in 1629 in the Ming Dynasty by Chinese monk Chaonian primarily for Nagasaki’s Chinese residents.

Entering the Temple

Sofuku-ji Temple

Photo by: PIXTA/ Y.BLUE Spot the two guardian lions and sculptures on the top roof.

The path leading to the temple is a steep slope that ends on a hill offering an exhilaratingly panoramic view of the city and harbor. At once, the striking red Ryugomon entrance gate, originally constructed in 1673 and restored in 1849, greets you proudly with its massively curved stone structure, two shishi guardian lions and three tiers with ornate sculptures on the top roof.

The temple belongs to the Obaku school of Zen Buddhism originating from China and reflects the sect’s typical architectural style of railings, Obaku-style ceiling in the vestibule, half-doors and Chinese polychromy.

Important Cultural Treasures

Sofuku-ji Temple

Photo by: PIXTA/ ゆう Consistent with the other structures on the temple grounds, it is painted in red lacquer.

Two national treasures found in Sofukuji Temple are daiippomon gate and daiohoden (main hall or Buddha hall). The Daiippomon gate was the original entrance gate, which was moved to the inner gate. It was constructed in China in 1644, then later shipped by boat to Nagasaki and reassembled in the premises in 1695. Consistent with the other structures on the temple grounds, it is painted in red lacquer, just like the Ryugomon.

The Daiohoden hall is considered to be one of Nagasaki’s oldest buildings and displays the Shakyamuni Tathagata Buddha and other 17th-century sculptures of Buddha’s disciples. Worshippers pray here to the Goddess of the Sea, Maso. Like the Daiippomon gate, it was also assembled in China and shipped to Sofukuji. The first level depicts the Chinese architectural style, but the second level reveals Japanese architectural features.

The temple grounds are quite spacious, encircled by other structures, such as the Gohodo Hall, Mazu Hall and a giant bell built in 1647. Multileveled staircases take you around the high surrounding stone walls and rich landscape of verdant trees and bushes, indicative of the sacred reverence and esteemed significance rendered to this temple.

Things To Know


The temple is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the admission fee is ¥300.

How To Get There


By train

From Nagasaki station, take tram number 1 bound for Sofukuji Temple (final stop), then walk three minutes to the temple.

By bus

From Nagasaki station take the bus bound for Sofukuji-iriguchimae and walk three minutes.

Where To Stay

Yataro Yataro Minamikan
  • 2-1 Kazagashiramachi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki, 850-0803 Japan
  • ¥6,600 - ¥6,600
  • 4.18/5 (650 reviews)
  • 0.4 km
Hotel Forza Nagasaki
  • 4-11 Hamamachi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki, 850-0853 Japan
  • ¥6,175 - ¥26,600
  • 4.33/5 (2,360 reviews)
  • 0.6 km
Casa Blanca Guesthouse
  • 7-16 Dozamachi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki, 850-0841 Japan
  • ¥3,449 - ¥56,430
  • 0.7 km
Dormy Inn Nagasaki Shinchi Chukagai
  • 7-24 Dozamachi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki, 850-0841 Japan
  • ¥7,942 - ¥42,240
  • 4.4/5 (3,643 reviews)
  • 0.7 km
Candeo Hotels Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown
  • 3-12 Dozamachi, Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki, 850-0841 Japan
  • ¥11,800 - ¥36,400
  • 4.43/5 (1,029 reviews)
  • 0.7 km

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