Chuson-ji temple is known as Hiraizumi’s most famous attraction. First established in 850 as a place of worship for the Tendai Sect of Buddhism when the northern arm of the Fujiwara clan transferred their base to Hiraizumi, it is now the head Tendai temple in the Tohoku region of northern Honshu.
Whilst the temple once stood as a grand place of worship consisting of a large network of dozens of buildings in its heyday, it is now a shadow of its former glory. As the 12th century ended, so too did the influence of the Fujiwara clan until it eventually fell, subsequently leading to the downfall of Chuson-ji. Today only two buildings from that time period remain intact. Thankfully, the most impressive building, Konjikido, remains resolute and still stands strong today. The grand Konjikido protects the mummified remains of the chiefs of the Fujiwara clan from each generation and resembles the famous Kinkaku-ji of Kyoto, also known as the Golden Pavilion – as both are completely covered in gold. Dating back to 1124 A.D, Chuson-ji’s Konjikido is fragile and very shy – it stands inside another building for protection, and photography is strictly prohibited.
The other building which remains standing in its original form is the Kyozo Hall, which was used to store Buddhist scripture. Whilst most of the original buildings have fallen, Chuson-ji temple is home to a number of interesting buildings which are used as sites for a number of sacred rituals – most of which are performed in the Hondo building. Another interesting structure is the Treasure Hall which is home to a collection of more than 3,000 National Treasures.
Chuson-ji temple’s rich history has ensured its designation as a Special Historic Site, and was even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 as one of the “Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi”. You can really feel the history of the place as you walk through the temple grounds. A visit to Chuson-ji truly is a majestic experience that is sure to leave you with an immense sense of wonder. The tranquil temple grounds are vast and extend as far as one kilometer into the surrounding forest, which means there is plenty to see and do.
Chuson-ji temple offers a great opportunity to experience the typical architectural style of the Hiraizumi culture that started to flourish in the ninth century. The beauty of the remaining structures shine through despite their age, and because of this, as well as its significance to Buddhism, Chuson-ji temple is ranked as one of the most important Buddhist temples in Japan.
Chuson-ji temple is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (4:30 p.m. from November to February).
The temple grounds can easily be reached via a 25-minute walk from Hiraizumi Station. Alternatively, you can take the bus which is just a short five-minute ride.
- Chuson-ji Temple
- Iwate Pref. Nishiwaigunhiraizumichou Hiraizumi Koromonoseki 202
[11/Apr.-Feb. end Sunday] 8:30-16:30
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- open everyday