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Chusonji: Iwate’s Most Popular Temple

Posted By on Mar 11, 2015


Chusonji is a famous Buddhist temple and tourist attraction in Iwate Prefecture. A few years back it was finally registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today Chusonji is the head temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism in Tohoku.  No one knows exactly when this important temple was founded. Some argue that it was in the year 850, but others think it’s more likely that it wasn’t until later in 1100.


Unfortunately, a fire in the early 1300s destroyed most of the temple and the national treasures it contained inside.

If you visit today there are several buildings to explore including the Main Hall. The Main Hall is the most important building and a majority of all Buddhist services take place there.

Another important building is the Fudodo Hall and the Sankozo Museum. Sorry to say but photos of these places are not allowed—I guess that’s even more reason to see them for yourself!


The Sankozo Museum houses over 3,000 treasures inside from the time of the Oshu Fujiwara. These include sections of the Chuson-ji Sutras, three large Buddhas and other important Buddhist relics. Many of these, especially the sutras are considered national treasures of Japan.

Another one of the temple’s national treasures is the Golden Hall, or Konjikido. This hall dates back to 1124 and is the only remaining building from the Fujiwara-era before the fire.

Inside the building are the remains of the four generations of Fujiwara lords.

Again, photos inside are not allowed!


Konjikido is dedicated to Amida Nyorai, the Buddha of Infinite Light. Inside there are many golden statues and the roof of the hall is covered in gold leave. It is said to be one of the most elaborately decorated buildings in the world and it is absolutely beautiful!

If only photos were allowed. A visit to this building is well worth the entire trip!

On the western side you’ll also find a slope leading down Kanzan Hill. If you follow it you’ll be taken to the Hakusan Shrine. This smaller shrine is also made up of multiple buildings, including a beautiful noh stage.

With so much to see and explore, it’s no wonder Chuson-ji Temple is an important place to visit in Japan.

Address: Koromonoseki-202 Hiraizumi, Nishiiwai District, Iwate Prefecture 029-4102, Japan

[post by Beth]

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Beth Williams

Originally from Chicago, Beth got her first true taste of travel when she studied abroad in Japan during her final year of university. She ended up loving Asia so much, she found herself moving right back upon graduating and is currently teaching English full-time in Hong Kong. Armed with her camera and a passion for travel, she is currently on a mission to photograph the world-- proving that you can work the normal “9-5” and still find time to travel on her blog Besudesu Abroad.

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