The word "Zen" has recently become used by many languages, and is associated with everything from elegant design to being cool and relaxed. In fact, the word "Zen" comes from the Sanskrit word dhyana and means "meditation", "calming of the mind", "concentration" and "peacefulness". Zen Buddhism is largely divided into the Soto school and the Rinzai school. Fukui Prefecture is where Eiheiji Temple is located. Eiheiji Temple, where Soto Zen monks from all over Japan do Zen practice every day, is one of the head monasteries of Soto Zen Buddhism in Japan.
Zen Buddhism is famous for zazen ("sitting Zen" in the cross-legged posture). Eiheiji Temple and Daianji Temple both provide opportunities for visitors to experience zazen.
Eiheiji Temple won two stars in Michelin Green guide Japon (Japan edition).
Fukui's long history with shojin-ryori can be traced to Eiheiji, one of the head monasteries of Soto Zen. There, from the time the monastery was founded in 1244, traditional Buddhist cuisine, shojin-ryori, has been developed as an important part of the practice. Dogen Zenji, the founder of Eiheiji Temple, clarified the duties of the monastery's head cook, respectfully referred to as the "tenzo", in a book entitled "Instructions for the Tenzo". In this book, Dogen Zenji, describes both the practical duties of the tenzo as well as the state of mind with which he prepares and offers meals to the assembly. The tenzo treats both the ingredients and those who receive the final product with the utmost respect, and through this process, simultaneously expresses gratitude to all existences. As Zen practice is easily applicable in everyday life, this attitude spread throughout the greater populace with relative ease.
You can eat shojin ryori, or Japanese vegetarian dishes, at the restaurants around Eiheiji temple. Shojin ryori is the origin of our modern Japanese food representing the spirit of Zen.
Goma-dofu, or crushed sesame seeds boiled in water and chilled like tofu, has been produced in Eiheiji area. Goma-dofu produced there has excellent quality. It is made by kneading selected, high-quality sesame and Yoshino kuzu together adding pure water. (Kuzu refers to the starch made from arrowroot.) The delicate and rich flavor of sesame and sticky texture of Goma-dofu give us an exquisite sense of satisfaction. It goes very well with miso paste.
Abura-age refers to deep-fried bean curd. The feature of abura-age made in Fukui is its bigger and thicker size than ordinary ones. When boiled in soy sauce-based soup, it tastes delicious absorbing the tasty soup plentifully. It is a specialty food in Fukui and a popular ingredient used for nimono, or boiled dishes, and osuimono, or clear soup.