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Komazawa University: The Museum of Zen Culture and History (駒澤大学禅文化歴史博物館)


General Information

The Museum of Zen Culture and History
1-23-1 Komazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 154-8525
Email: (Please replace # with @)
Sunday, National Holidays, New Years,
and other holidays designated by Komazawa University


About the Museum:

The Museum of Zen Culture and History was established in 2002 to commemorate Komazawa University’s 120th anniversary. KounkanI (耕雲館) designated a Historical Building by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, was chosen for the location.  The Museum is considered a symbol for Komazawa University because the university was founded based on Zen Buddhist principles of the Soto sect. The university is hoping that the Zen Museum, which is unique in its holdings, will contribute to the cultural development of the community as well as the university and the Soto Buddhist sect.

The permanent exhibition is located on the 1st floor and is divided into the 2 sections: Exhibition Room A, a space symbolizing Zen, and Exhibition Rooms B1 to B5, each with its own theme, which trace the history and culture of Zen focusing on the Soto sect. This Museum possesses a broad collection, ranging from calligraphy and pictures by Zen monks to artistic crafts symbolizing Zen culture and Buddhist art. Visitors are invited to explore the world of Zen and the founding spirit of the University.

Special exhibitions are held on the 2nd floor.  In addition, The University History exhibitions room (permanent exhibition) explains Komazawa University's development, starting as Sendanrin (旃檀林) a Zen seminary founded in 1592.

The basement houses study and seminar rooms for the Museology courses offered at the university.

Resources and Facilities

Summary of Collection(s)

Permanent Display

The permanent exhibition, The World of Zen 禅の世界, is divided into two exhibition spaces:

Exhibition Room A: This is a symbolic space featuring home shrines Sumidan (須弥壇) and Ichibutsuryōsō 一仏両祖像, a triptych, statues of Buddha, Dogen (道元), and Keizan (瑩山), in the center of the room. In addition, the exhibition features a recreation of the living space of trainee monk's tan (単), one tatami, emphasizing simplicity, a Zen meditation statue, and musical instruments Gyoku (魚鼓), wooden gong shaped like a fish, Unban (雲版), a clock chime object used for notifying monks of various significant times, such as time for eating or chanting Hanshō 半鐘 (fire bell), used in Zen temples. Other objects include 4 panels which depicts Buddha's life, and two sets of statues representing the correct zen meditation posture: Sawaki Kōdō rōshi zazen zō 澤木興道老子坐禅像 (a statue of Sawaki Kōdō who was the most influential zen masters in 20th centuery), and Banryū 蟠龍. 

Exhibition Room B:

1. The Roots of Zen features the history of Zen from its origin to its introduction to Japan.

2. The Establishment and Growth of Soto Zen features the history of the Soto sect from its foundation by Dogen to its growth through the efforts of Kaizan.

3. The World of the Shobogenzo and the Denkoroku covers the thoughts and the transmission of the teachings of the Soto sect of Zen expressed in Dogen’s Shobogenzo (正法眼蔵) and Keizan’s Denkoroku (伝光録). Computer terminals are available for full text searches. In addition, Dogen's life and training days at Eihei-ji (永平寺) are displayed.

4. Biographies of Zen monks introduce those active in the middle ages, early modern times, and modern times, and reveal the progress of the Soto sect from the perspective of social history.

5. Zen Culture and History explains the influence of Zen on the culture and arts of Japan.

Note: The Guide uses the ALA/LC standard romanization, however, it also reflects different romanization system used by an individual institution.

How to Use the Facility

Visiting the Museum

Open to the Public

Admission: Free

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