Eihei-ji is one of two main temples of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism. Its founder was Eihei Dogen. Eihei-ji is located about 10 km (6 mi) east of Fukui in Fukui Prefecture, Japan.
Dogen founded Eihei-ji in 1246 in the woods of rural Japan, quite far from the distractions of Kamakura-era urban life. He appointed a successor, but sometime after his death the abbacy of Eihei-ji became hotly disputed, a schism now called the sandai soron. Until 1468, Eihei-ji was not held by the current Keizan line of Soto, but by the line of Dogen's Chinese disciple Jakuen. After 1468, when the Keizan line took ownership of Eihei-ji in addition to its major temple Soji-ji and others, Jakuen's line and other alternate lines became less prominent.
The entire temple was destroyed by fire several times. Its oldest standing structure dates from 1749, and the manuscripts in its treasure house are reconstructions from that era.
Today, Eihei-ji is the main training temple of Soto Zen. The standard training for a priest in Eihei-ji is from three months to a two-year period of practice. It is in communion with all Japanese Soto Zen temples, and some temples in America, including the San Francisco Zen Center.