Chozen-ji: Zen Temple Beyond Zen


Unlike any other Zen temple

Since its establishment in 1972, leaders from Hawaiʻi and around the world have come to Chozen-ji to pursue the deepest spiritual self-discipline, or shugyo. Through our rigorous approach to Zen training, true freedom and happiness are not only possible but able to be shared endlessly with the world. This far reaching impact on the world is in keeping with our designation as the only Daihonzan, or central temple, outside of Japan.


A vibrant community training in the Way

At Chozen-ji, students are pushed to refine their breath, posture and awareness in every activity. The various practices, especially zazen (meditation), grow this state of concentration and relaxation in which one is fully present, moment by moment. By deeply pursuing the Way, students can ultimately develop the wisdom and compassion often associated with old age at any point in life so they can use it to benefit the world.

Today, beyond the Dojo in Hawaii, there are students around the world training in the Chozen-ji lineage, most notably at the Zen Dojo of Wisconsin. To learn more about how to join Chozen-ji and participate in Zen training, please visit our Training page.


Chozen-ji History

Chozen-ji was founded by Omori Sogen and Tenshin Tanouye, both renowned Zen masters, swordsmen and calligraphers. Omori Roshi is a direct Dharma Successor of the Tenryu-ji Line of Rinzai Zen and a successor of Yamaoka Tesshu's Taishi School of Calligraphy and of the Jikishinkage School of Fencing.

Tanouye Roshi was a kama‘aina – born of the land of Hawai‘i – and a public school teacher with a specialty in music who turned his school room into a martial arts dojo every afternoon. He was also a determined student of the martial arts and earned the 6th or 7th degree in seven different arts including Judo, Kendo, Karate, Iaido and Jojitsu.

With this background, Tanouye Roshi developed an approach to Zen that uses the breath and physical training to cultivate Ki’ai—the intangible yet ever-present spirit/vibration of every object, person or interaction. Using the martial and fine arts, he developed an accessible method that emphasized the interruption of habits and attachments. In doing so, he gave practical form to Omori Roshi’s proclamation in the first line of the Chozen-ji Canon:

Zen is to transcend life and death (all dualism), to truly realize that the entire universe is the “True Human Body,” through the discipline of “mind and body in oneness.”


A Manawa , A Spiritual Mountain in Hawai'i


Chozen-ji is located deep in Honolulu’s Kalihi Valley. The cultural and spiritual practices of Hawaiʻi provide the backdrop for our unique approach to Zen training.

On her first visit, Hawaiian spiritual teacher and activist Pilahi Paki recognized Chozen-ji as a Manawa, one of four spiritual energy “mountains” of Hawai‘i thought to be lost in modernity. True to its name (meaning “Temple of Zen transcending Zen”), Chozen-ji seeks to go beyond the structures that differentiate us, and acknowledge the unified essence of who we are. Nana Veary, another renowned Hawaiian spiritual teacher, said she felt like she came home when she found Chozen-ji and that Tanouye Roshi was a Zen Master who taught and embodied the spirit of Aloha.