[Throwback Article] Lee’s Travelog – Chuson-ji Temple, my second stop on the Shiji-Kairo

※This article was published at

January 2015


In an earlier article, I wrote about Yamadera Temple in Yamagata Prefecture. 

This is part of the Shiji-Kairo (四寺回廊), a tour of the four key temples in the Tohoku (northeast) area of Japan. 

Let me guide you to my second stop of this historic route: Chuson-ji temple (中尊寺).




Chuson-ji Temple is a World Heritage hidden away in the Hiraizumi town of Iwate prefecture. 

It is believed that this temple was opened in 1100. 

The temple spans a large area, with multiple historic sites dotted around the expansive grounds. 

You will first be greeted by Tsukimi-zaka (月見坂), which separates the temple from the hustle-bustle of the town below. 

Once you’re done with this hill, your next stop will likely be the famous Konjiki-do.




The most famous building at Chuson-ji is the Konjiki-do (金色堂), which literally translated to ‘golden hall’. 

Unlike what you might imagine, this hall is not visible from the outside. 

In order to protect the original structure, a building has been built to house the hall. 

Although only visible through a glass window, you will be able to appreciate the beauty of this historic building. 

Perhaps noteworthy for Southeast Asian tourists is the raden-zaiku (螺鈿細工), or ‘mother-of-pearl work’ embedded into wood. 

While the pearls are said to be from China and Japan, the wood used is from Indonesia and Malaysia. 

At the time of construction, the Southeast Asian wood was highly prized by Japanese temples, owing to their durability, and is heavily employed at Chuson-ji temple.




Iwate prefecture, where Chuson-ji Temple is located, was one of the prefectures worst affected by the March 11 earthquake in 2011. 

Although recovery efforts are underway, visiting the prefecture and spending money there is one way to help support the local economy too!


To get to Chuson-ji Temple, it is a 1.6km minute walk from JR Hiraizumi Station (rental bicycles and buses are also available); Buses from Sendai station are also available. 

The admission fee is 800 yen for adults, and the temple is open from 8:30am-5:00pm (The times are 8:30am-4:30pm in the winter). 


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