Hidden treasures and a quiet atmosphere at the Hydrangea Temple of Matsue
Unassuming in exterior and tucked away in a quiet corner of the city, the treasures contained within Gessho-ji Temple are hidden at first glance. Passing under the low temple wall and rounding the corner, however, one is greeted with a spacious garden and altars to the former lords of the Matsue Domain. Exquisite wood carvings adorn the gates to each altar. While brimming with plant life, the tide of hydrangeas that sweeps across the temple grounds in vivid blues and reds come June earns Gessho-ji the title of The Hydrangea Temple of Matsue. Other noteworthy features include a monstrous stone turtle said to have a penchant for making locals his midnight snack (though the stone pillar on his back now prevents him) and a lotus pond that shelters some of his smaller cousins. After winding one’s way through the grounds and entering the temple proper, another small, charming garden is revealed. Matcha and locally-made sweets may be ordered while resting in the quiet, serene atmosphere. Gessho-ji is located 20 minutes from Matsue Station on the Lake Line, a bus route that loops around the main tourism sites of the city.