Medieval Japanese religious city nestled in the silence, Heisenji Hakusan Shrine
Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is a shrine which is a center of faith of Hakusan mountain. It was originally a temple of a Buddhism sect, Tendai shu. A monk Taicho opened it in 717. In 16th century, Heisenji was in its heyday. It had 8000 warrior monks and made a large religious city. However another resistance group of Buddhists, Ikko Ikki, attacked and destroyed Heisenji. After that, some monks reconstructed Heisenji. Also in Meiji era Heisenji became a shrine, not a temple because the separation decree between Buddha and God of Shinto.
Highlights of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine, which is one of the best 100 historical places in JapanHeisenji Hakusan Shrine has rich nature making beautiful scenery. It is one of best 100 beautiful historical places in Japan. It is also a national historic site. Besides, there is a beautiful Japanese traditional garden, Kyu-genjou-in garden. it is a national scenic spot. There is also Heisenji approach, which is one of the best roads in Japan.
In the precinct, the old stone steps and gardens have full of mysterious atmosphere. In the approach, there is a ceder forest. It is beautiful to spread shining moss from rainy season to summer season. Also we can see old big ceder trees, and one of them is older than 450 years old. We can feel energy from those ceder trees which survived the destroying and fire.
In recent years, excavation research started. They excavated the stone-paved road, which was the biggest one in medieval Japan and using cutting-edge technology at the time. Therefore you can see the mysterious history of religious city in medieval Japan, as well as its beautiful nature.
From here, we continue to introduce thoroughly the major highlights of the Heisenji Hakusan Shrine.
Cobblestone in ceder forest which has 500 years history, Heisenji old approachFirst we introduce Heisenji old approach. You can see this old approach when you enter the entrance of Heisenji. You will walk in the old ceder forest, Bodairin, continuing for 1km. We can feel the long history from the stone pavement, which is over 500 years old. About 3000 monks carried the stones from Kuzuryu River and built this cobbled street while praying. Thus it has a long history, so it is one of the best 100 roads in Japan.
Only high-calss monks can walk on this cobblestone. ordinary people walked the lower side of the road. We can enjoy the history and walk towards Heisenji Hakusan Shrine.
a small history and nature museum of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine, “Mahoroba”Building comes into the right is a small museum of history and nature, Mahoroba. Not only about Heisenji Hakusan Shrine but also the history, nature amd culture of Hakusan which is part of the religion are exhibitied. You will be able to understand the entire map and excavation location of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine. Learn about Heisenji Hakusan shrine before the tour.
For a limited time from mid-April to early November, Daimon Market will be open in front of the building of Mahoroba. Local people are selling seasonal wild vegetables and fresh vegetables here. The history of Daimon Market is long. In the Heian period, Toshihito Fujiwara prayed for wining the war at Heisesnji. When they won and celebrated the victory, this Daimon Market was founded.
Mahoroba is an old Japanese word which means “great location,” “livable place”. This means, Heisenji which has a history of 1300 years was a land of Mahoroba.
Japanese traditional garden in real nature, “Kyu-genjou-in garden”Along the approach way and passing one torii, there is Kyu-genjou-in garden. It has been designated as a scenic beauty of the country. I is a garden that expresses nature without using water, only and stone. One side is cover is moss. Moss green and sunshine through the trees are making a fantastic atmosphere.
Kyu-genjou-in was made Takakuni Hosokawa, Kanrei of Muromachi Shogunate around 1530. It is said to be the oldest gardens in the Hokuriku region. Genjou-in is the name of the building called the Tatchu that was in Heisenji. After 9 years since it has changed to ashes in the war, a monk called Kenkai returned here and have rebuilt the Heisenji.
Entrance fee is 50 yen.
Mysterious pond where God appeared, “Mitarashi-ike Hira-shimizu”Mitarashi-ike Hira-shimizu is ahead of Kyu-genjou-in gardenleft-hand side of the approach way. When Taichō was praying toward the rock in the middle of this pond, it is said that one goddess appeared. Following the revelation, Taichō opened the Heisenji here. Also this pond’s name is the origin of the name of Heisenji.
It is filled with beautiful spring water and the bottom is transparently visible. The surface of the water reflects the forest like a mirror. You can enjoy a mysterious and beautiful sight. Ministry of the Environment has selected this water as one of the nationwide 100 best water. However, you can not drink this water directly because the algae is breeding in the pond.
Spreading moss making mystical scenery, “the hall of worship. “When you pass the Mitarashi-ike and go through the 2nd torii, there is a Haiden of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine. Around the Haiden there are lots of giant trees of old cedar in a line. Some of them are hundreds of years old. Also on the ground moss is growing side to side and making a fantastic landscape. You will feel a calm atmosphere like your heart is washed in silence.
Although the current Haiden was rebuilt in 1859, the Edo era, it is leaving the taste of the building of the Heian period, which was built before it was burned. Before it was burned down, the building was about 83m. It is said to be that it was the largest Haiden in Japan. Around the current Haiden, huge cornerstones are still remaining.
In the Haiden, some things are dedicated. One of them are ex-voto of Fukui lord Matsudaira family. Most of them are cultural assets of Katsuyama City.
Dragon sculpture is stunning, and worship the God of Hakusan “main hall”In the back of Haiden, climbing a little steep stairs, there is the Honden. You cannot see the inside of Honden. It is a sacred place where the body of god is enshrined. It is a place you should visit when you visit Heisenji.
The building was built in 1795, the Edo era. A sculpture of dragon on the whole building is beautiful. The doors of the Honden will be opened once in every 33 years. The inside can be seen at that moment. The next time is 2025.
Excavation site of religious city in medieval Japan, “Minamitani excavation site. “If you move to Honden’s right hand, there is a stone path. At the end, there is a place that is open. That is Minamitani excavation site, Remains of Heisenji are excavated here.
There used to be lots of Vihara here. Between them there were stone-paved roads like a mesh. Their remains had been buried under the long cedar forest and fields. By recent excavation and research, how it looked like in the past has been figured out. The currently excavating cobbled pathway has been made with the most advanced technology at the time. It is said that it was the largest one in the country.
Long time ago, Heiseiji Hakusui Shrine was 10 times larger than there are now. New piece of history might be found by future excavations.
Giant tree that survived the war, “Big sider of Wakamiya Hachiman”In the corner of Minamitani excavation site, a giant cedar tree more than 450 years old is remaining. This giant cedar survived though the whole mountain burned down in 1574. It survived during the long history. The thick trunk and branches in all directions gives us a strong image.
Around it is a Shimenawa. It means it is sacred tree which God stops by. Next to it is a small shrine. You can find this tree by searching for a Shimenawa and small shrine
Fees of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine
Entering Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is free. Kyu-Genjou-in garden is 50 yen.
Opening hours of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine
You can enter any time.
Location and access of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine
From Katsuyama Station of Katsuyama Eiheiji line, take a taxi. In about 10 minutes, you will be at Heisenji Hakusan Shrine.
If you want to use bus, following are ways to go.
– On Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays, city tour bus “Dainagon” is available. Get on at Katsuyama Station and get off at Heisenji. A 4-minute walk from there.
– Get on to Katsuyama City Sightseeing Bus bound for Heisenji at Katsuyama Station. Get off at Heisenji. A 4-minute walk from there.
– Get on to Keifuku bus Katsuyama Ohno line bound to Vio. Get off at Kitaichi. A 17-minute walk to Heisenji old approach way.
GEt off at Echizen Ohno Station of JR’s Kuzuryu line. Get on Keifuku Bus Katsuyama Ohno line bound for Fukui Katsuyama Hospital. Get off at Kitaichi. a 17-minute walk to Heisenji old approach way.
However, there aren’t that much bus running. Only 1 bus per 1 or 2 hour. Even less bus on weekdays. Confirm the time of bus for return when you head there.
Location of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine
Heisenji, Heisenji Town, Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture
Heisenji Hakusan Shrine reviews
What kind of impressions did the visitors of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine have. Following are some reviews that might be helpful if you are planning to visit Heisenji Hakusan Shrine in the future.
happyusami – visited with family
It was part of me and my husband’s journey. Around here, it was silent like another world. The moss was beautiful. The building stole my heart too. You can spend a long time here. This is a great place to visit.
chabins2 – visit with family
I went without much expectation. Only because it was popular in many reviews. It is saild that there used to be lots of Hakusan faith temples and shrines. Now it is just a quiet shrine. However, the approach is moist and mossy. The world of subtle and profound. A place known only by local people. But it has a quite great atmosphere. Tourism development is progressing around this area. But I want them to protect the moss.
susicubed – visited with partner
This was an accidental find – we were on our way to Katsuyama Castle. Not one other person around – just trees and moss. Unlike so many other shrines, here you can take in the silence and the spirit of a place set aside.
Big Five – visited with friend
When you pass through the torii, the atmosphere completely changes. A solemn atmosphere. We visited on Sunday, but there were only few tourists, so I was able to quietly enjoy. They have a long history. I was surprised about their prosperity as a holy city in the old age. Moss was also wonderfully beautiful.
Shirohakase – visited alone
From the entrance to the Honden, there is a approach way. There is a cedar grove on both side. The atmosphere is wrapped with silence. It is a good sacred place. No noisy billboards. Only few tourists. It was really best place as a sanctuary. I was glad that that place has not been poisoned as a tourist destination. Hope this place won’t change.
Recommended place around Heisenji Hakusan Shrine: Echizen Great BuddhaEchizen Great Buddha is a Buddha in the Daishizan Seidaiji. Height 17. 0m is taller than Great Buddha of Nara. It is the tallest seated figure in Japan. The Hall of the Great Buddha’s height is 52m. You will be surprised about the size. In addition to Great Buddha, there are 1,000 small Buddha arranged in an orderly manner.
Next to the Hall of the Great Buddha, there is a five-story pagoda. Height is 75m. This is also the tallest in Japan. Taller than Toji in Kyoto. However, this five-story pagoda is a reinforced concrete building. Toji is the tallest wooden pagoda in Japan. You can enter the five-story pagoda and get on the elevator. To go to the top floor, you will need to use the stairs to the top floor. Though, it is a great place of scenery.
Daishizan Seidaiji is a new temple that was founded in 1987. Kiyoshi Tada, a businessman invested his private property for building it. The history is short and tourists are very few. It’s temple town became a ghost town. Many shops closed their business. You might be surprised when you visit. Though, the Great Buddha is worth a look and the scenery from the top floor of the five-story pagoda is beautiful. It is a worth a visit place. It is not crowded with tourists, so it is possible to look around comfortable and slowly.
It is 1. 5 km far from Heisenji’s old approach way. It is about 20 minutes on foot.
The fee of Daishizan Seidaiji is 500 yen per adults. 300 yen per elementary, intermediate and high school students.
Open hours are 8 am to 5 pm. They do not have a closed day.
Location of Daishizan Seidaiji
50 Katase, Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture