During the 6th year of the Kan’ei Era (1629), the native citizens and monks from Fujian, China, who were then living in Nagasaki, built a temple in order to remain detached from the world. Thus, the Sofukuji Temple was born.
The architectural style of southern China during the 17th century (around the end of the Ming Dynasty and beginning of the Qing Dynasty) was imported into Japan as is, bringing in a unique style never before seen in Japan at the time.
The Sanmon Gate (a designated important cultural property)
This gate is also known as the Ryugu Gate. It was built in 1849 under the guidance of Chinese people.
The Daiipomon Gate (a designated national treasure)
This gate is also called “Karamon” (Chinese-style gate), “Kaitenmon,” and “Akamon” (red gate). It was constructed in 1644 during the Shouho Era before being reconstructed in 1696 with materials gathered and delivered from Ningpo, China. It is particularly famous for the complicated structure of the beams under its awning and the framed calligraphy which is read as “Daiipo” of the famous Buddhist monk Sokuhi.
The Daiyuhoden (a designated national treasure)
The main temple of Sofukuji. The principal idol of worship here is the Sakyamuni (sage of the Sakyas). Flanking each side are Kasyapa and Anan, two of the ten great Buddhist disciples. This building was constructed in 1646. The carved statues of the Eighteen Arhats (the original followers of Buddha who have reached the state of enlightenment) is the central masterpiece of this area.
The Gohodou (a designated important cultural property)
On the left is Idaten (or Skanda in Sanskrit, a guardian deity) while on the right is Kan’u (a known Chinese historical figure who is also worshipped). At the center is Kan’non, the Buddhist deity of mercy. This structure was built in 1731. It has a particularly exquisite base.
The Shokoro (a designated important cultural property)
This structure was built in 1647. At its initial revealing, the names of all the donors who made the construction of the Shokoro possible were written on the temple bell.
The Masodomon Gate (a designated important cultural property)
This gate was constructed in 1827. It serves as a corridor where the Buddhist sanctum and the chief priest communicate with each other.
The Masodo Hall (a designated Nagasaki Prefecture historical landmark)
This place where Maso, goddess of the sea who is widely worshipped in Fujian, is enshrined can be seen only in Nagasaki. At the right-hand side is Junpuji while at the left is Senrigan, two demons said to be tamed by Maso whose names mean “ears that hear through the winds” and “eyes that see a thousand leagues,” respectively. (Source) This was constructed in order to pray for the safety of the ship owners as they voyage across the sea during the Tang Dynasty. Until present time, the Chinese residents in Nagasaki throw a grand festival here every March 23.
The Okama (Great Cauldron, a designated important cultural property)
When there was a famine during the Tenna Era, rice gruel was cooked in this giant cauldron and is said to have saved many lives of refugees.