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Motsuji Temple: A Place of Scenic Beauty

Posted By on Mar 24, 2015


Located near Chusonji Temple in Iwate is Motsuji Temple (毛越寺). There a bus connecting these two temples, but it’s actually a very nice walk or bike ride!

Motsuji Temple was designated as a Special Historic Site and a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, and it’s easy to see why.

Motsuji Temple was said to have been founded in 850– similar to Chusonji Temple. Many years ago it was a huge complex of temples, pagodas and over 40 halls. Unfortunately, fires swept the entire complex and all that remain today are ruins and ironically, the eternal flame.

Motsuji - Kaizando (???????)

A new hall was rebuilt in the 1980s, as well as a few other buildings.

Today people travel from all over to visit the Oizumi ga Ike Pond. This garden, which is indeed on a pond, recreates many of Japan’s most beautiful scenic areas around the country.

Rocks of various sizes rise from the surface of the pond, simulating the mountains. This spot is considered to be one of the finest examples of Karesansui, or Japanese rock gardens.


This unique technique of gardening dates back to the Heian era (794-1192). The pond is huge and it takes a while to walk around, but its a very pleasant walk.

Leading away from the pond is a feeder stream. This is actually the only one of its kind dating back to the Heian era! These stream was designed to replenish the water in the pond.


If you visit the temple, be sure to wander around and check out all the gardens and landmarks. They’re a bit scattered throughout, but it’s worth it to seek them out.

One of the most famous landmarks is the Matsuo Basho Haiko Monument. Here you’ll see a translated line from one of Basho’s famous poems, which was said to have been written on the grounds of Motsuji Temple.

Before you leave, stop by the Motsuji Cultural Assets Repository, located just next to the entrance. Inside you’ll find all sorts of artifacts like Buddhist statues, scripts, and clothing. Some of the items date back to the 12th century.

Address: 58 平泉大沢, 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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