iCLA Students visit Erinji Temple as part of iEXPerience Program

iCLA’s exchange and short-term study abroad students visited Yamanashi’s historical Erinji Temple on September 16th as part of iCLA’s iEXPerience Program.

iCLA’s exchange and short-term study abroad students visited Yamanashi’s historical Erinji Temple on September 16th as part of iCLA’s iEXPerience Program. A favorite among students, Erinji has been a frequent destination for iCLA’s educational field trips through the iEXPerience Program.

The iEXPerience Program organizes field trips to prominent locations in Yamanashi so international students can gain a deeper understanding into Yamanashi’s culture, arts, and history under the guidance of iCLA professors and local professionals. The study abroad experience is also enriched by the cross-cultural experiences and interactions with Yamanashi people.

32 students from diverse backgrounds participated on this iEXPerience trip organized by the iCLA Study Abroad Team and accompanied by Professor William Reed, an expert in samurai culture and Japanese calligraphy.

In the first activity of the program, students received a lesson in traditional Japanese tea ceremony or Sado with a tea master. Students learned how to enter the tea room, the importance of appreciating items in the tea alcove or tokonoma, and finally the ceremonial way to drink matcha.

iCLA international students participate in the iEXPerience Program and try wagashi.
iCLA international students practice tea ceremony at Erinji Temple.

On this occasion, the hanging wall scroll in the tokonoma states “harmony, respect, purity, tranquility”, an important phrase of Sado. Flowers, specially picked for the event, are in full bloom for only a few hours and wither in the evening. As part of the tea ceremony, students also enjoyed wagashi made into the shape of a chrysanthemum topped with cotton, artistically crafted to match the season. Finally, under the instruction of the tea master, students learned how to receive and drink the matcha.

iCLA international students practice Shakyo at Erinji Temple.

The second activity of the iEXPerience trip was Shakyo, the art of copying Sutra in Japanese calligraphy or Shodo. Professor William Reed, who is a 10th dan in Shodo and teaches iCLA’s Calligraphy and Kanji Culture course, led this activity. The sutra for this occasion was the Heart Sutra, the most famous of the Buddhist Sutras which is often chanted in temples. Students learned how to paint the characters using brush pens and engaged in the meditative activity.

“[From this field trip, I learned] patience and tranquility in this hectic world – forces individual to pace down and communicate with personal mind through these activities. Undoubtedly excellent trip in fostering patience, tranquility and mindfulness. Definitely a must to share this trip to other students as well!”

– iCLA exchange student, Wong

Students also toured Erinji’s unique historical landmarks. Erinji Temple dates back to 1330 and is notably the temple which houses the grave of Yamanashi’s ruling warlord of the Sengoku Period, Takeda Shingen. Its 700-year-old temple garden was designed by Muso Soseki, an influential figure in the history of Zen and Buddhism. Several gardens which he designed are now regarded as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Other notable sights are Erinji’s Sanmon, famous for being burned down by Oda Nobunaga, and with it, over one hundred monks, and Erinji’s oldest surviving structure, the Shikyakumon, which was also burned down by Oda Nobunaga but then rebuilt by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Students also had a chance to observe the Fudo Myo-O designed with the likeness of Takeda Shingen, also said to contain his hair in the lacquer used to paint it.

“[My favorite part of this field trip is] Being able to explore Erinji, as well as getting a brief tour, experiencing the Tea Ceremony and enjoying some calligraphy. I learned a lot about Erinji’s history as well as how a tea ceremony is performed.”

– iCLA exchange student, Eli
iCLA students participate in the iEXPerience Program.


iCLA Study Abroad Program
Erinji Temple
Yamanashi Tourism Bureau: Erinji Temple
iEXPerience: Erinji Temple for Tea Ceremony and Calligraphy Experience
iEXPerience: Wadaiko with Yamanashi High School Students
iEXPerience: Hoto Workshop and Exploring Shosenkyo Gorge
iEXPerience: Discovering Koshu