Chusonji Temple 中尊寺
An ancient, serene mountaintop temple with a pavilion covered in gold
Chusonji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located in Hiraizumi between Ichinoseki and Oshu. You can get a glimpse into Japan's frontier history at this temple. From the forested pathway climbing to the temple grounds at the peak of Mount Kanzan to the simple yet elegant beauty of the temple itself, a sense of profound serenity encompasses the area, making it a great place to spend the day.
- Konjikido, the Golden Pavilion, is a gold-covered pavilion built in the 12th century
- The Chusonji sutras (Buddhist scriptures penned in silver and gold)
Chusonji was founded in 850, and large-scale construction of the temple occurred in the early 12th century
Chusonji was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011
How to Get There
Take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Ichinoseki Station and change trains there.
Take a JR Tohoku Line from Ichinoseki Station bound for Morioka and get off at Hiraizumi Station. It is a 10-minute bus ride or 30-minute walk from the station to Chusonji.
Lotus flowers from seeds eight centuries old
Much of the temple has been rebuilt after its decline and the subsequent fire that destroyed numerous buildings in the complex. However, two of the original buildings remain: Konjikido and Kyozo hall. Konjikido, or the Golden Pavilion, is completely covered in gold and mother-of-pearl inlays, providing a breathtaking example of the craftsmanship of its time.
A kind of lotus flower known as the Chusonji lotus was germinated from the 800-year-old seeds found within Konjikido. Now you can see lotus flowers bloom every August, just as they did centuries ago, in a small pool at the base of the mountain.