Chuson-ji Temple (1/4)
Motsu-ji Temple (2/4)
Takkoku no Iwaya (3/4)
Takkoku no Iwaya\'s Daibutsu (4/4)


A World Heritage Site representing the Buddhist Pure Land


Chuson-ji Temple

800¥ 8:30 - 17:00

Chuson-ji is the head temple of the Tendai Buddhist sect in the Tohoku area and the most famous tourist attraction in Hiraizumi. It is believed to have been founded in the year 850 and raised to popularity when the powerful Fujiwara Clan moved its headquarters to Hiraizumi in the 12th century. At its peak, Chuson-ji consisted of a compound with multiple buildings and constructions, but nowadays only two of the original structures from that period remain: the Konjikodo and the Kyozo Hall.

The Konjikodo is a magnificent construction dating from 1124, which is completely covered in gold leave, in a similar way to the Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, and contains the mummified remains of the leaders of the Fujiwara Clan. It formerly sat in the open air, but is now protected inside a building for preservation (where no pictures are allowed to be taken). The Kyozo Hall served as a sutra (Buddhist scrpits) repository and it's the oldest building in the temple, predating the Kojikondo by 16 years.

Aside from the Fujiwara period constructions, Chuson-ji also offers a number of interesting attractions such as the Main Hall, a Treasure Hall and a Noh theatre stage, located along a network of paths which run through a deep forest.

Motsu-ji Temple

500¥ 8:30 - 17:00

Motsu-ji was once a massive Buddhist complex founded in the 12th century and formed by temples, halls, pagodas and gardens. Nowadays all of the original structures are gone and only the foundation stones and earthworks remain. Motsu-ji's garden, however, has been preserved throughout the years and it's considered as an outstanding example of the Heian era (794-1192) gardening technique style.

The garden is designated as Special Historic Site and is one of the few remaining Pure Land Gardens in Japan, which attempt to recreate the concept of Buddhist paradise. It is centered around a huge pond named Ozumi ga Oki, which is best enjoyed by walking the 500m path surrounding it.

Takkoku no Iwaya

300¥ 8:00 - 17:00

Takkoku no Iwaya is a Buddhist temple founded in the 9th century and dedicated to Bishamon, the God of war. Its main structure is partly located inside a massive rock wall and was constructed mimicking the style of Kyoto's Kiyomizudera temple. The original structure was burnt down and rebuilt several times along its history and the present construction dates from 1961.

Takkoku no Iwaya's most famous feature is the Ganmen Daibutsu, a massive 16.5 meter high carving of Buddha located on the sandstone cliff. It was originally a full figure representing the seated Buddha in heaven, but the lower part was destroyed by an earthquake in 1896. It is believed the carving dates from the Muromachi era (1337-1573) and it is considered as one of the giant Buddhas in Japan, together with Nara's and Kamakura's.


Hiraizumi Station
Tohoku Main Line Railpass


Hiraizumi is best explored by rental bikes, which can be rented in front of JR Hiraizumi Station. Most attractions are within a 10 minute bike ride of each other, except for Tokkoku no Iwaya which is located at about 5Km from Motsu-ji Temple.

Alternatively, Chuson-ji and Motsu-ji can be reached on foot or on a short bus ride from JR Hiraizumi Station.