Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Bukkōsan Housui-ji and the Spectacular Natural Scenery

If you are interested in adding some traditional Chinese architectural elements to your itinerary, Bukkōsan Housui-ji (佛光山 法水寺), close to Ikaho Onsen and Shibukawa City Multipurpose Park, is a good choice. Bukkōsan is Taiwan’s largest Buddhist group. Housui-ji in Ikaho, completed in 2018, is its head temple in Japan. The mountainous view of Mt. Akagi (赤城山) and the surrounding mountain ranges from the temple is spectacular. The gorgeous scenery produced by the cherry trees planted in the temple’s precinct is another reason tourists visit it in early spring.

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Unlike most temples in Japan, there are usually many volunteers at Housui-ji who will give you a brief tour of the temple. The buildings are magnificent, and the Buddha statues, drawings, and carvings used to decorate the precinct amaze visitors.

Bukkōsan Housui-ji Temple’s Main Worship Hall

The 4.8m tall Buddha enshrined in the main worship hall is a Gautama Buddha. Feel free to enter the hall and worship him for some internal peace. You might also notice many lit LED candles around the worship hall. The candles aren’t just placed to create a solemn atmosphere. They symbolize the desires of those who lit them to be a person who provides warmth and hope when the world is dark.

On one side of the worship hall, the wall has hundreds of different Buddhas carved. Look up at the ceiling if that isn’t enough to amaze you. The enormous lotus flower was hand-drawn by craftsmen!

Housui-ji Temple’s Gallery

If you like calligraphy, visit Housui-ji’s gallery. It is a space filled with the zen phrases written by the founder of Bukkōsan, Seiun Daishi (星雲大師). Many of the characters were written with one stroke. Suffering from diabetes, he lost most of his vision towards the end of his life journey. So to continue calligraphy, he had to finish the characters in one stroke. Otherwise, he wouldn’t know where to start the second stroke to finish writing the character.

Cultural Activities at Housui-ji Temple

For cultural activities, give sutra copying a try. The sutra copying at Housui-ji is fun and unique. Instead of having a set sutra to copy on a blank piece of paper, a lucky draw is involved.

At Housui-ji, the meaning of phrases from Buddhist sutras is chosen and made into fortune slips. After a number is drawn, take a slip from the respective units of the shelf. The sutra is lightly printed on the slip, and you can write above what is printed. So even if you don’t know Japanese, sutra-copying at Housui-ji won’t be hard! The English translation of each phrase is also printed at the bottom so you can understand what you are writing.

If you would prefer to go to a more formal sutra copying session with a brush, visit Shakyō-dō (写経堂). While a reservation is preferred, as long as a seat is free, you are welcome to sit down and start copying!

Zen meditation is also available at Housui-ji. If you are interested, make a reservation online by filling out the Google Form 3 days in advance.

  • Sutra-copying and meditation can be experienced free of charge. You are welcome to put money into the donation box.
  • The sessions are held from Friday to Wednesday.
  • Please arrive 10 minutes before the session’s starting time.
  • The sutra-copying session usually takes 30 to 40 minutes.

Tip: When hungry, head to the temple’s copy for a healthy vegan meal!

Bukkōsan Housui-ji Temple’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Housui-ji Temple is open from 9 am to 5 pm. It closes early at 4 pm in December and January.
  • The temple’s café is closed on Thursdays.
  • From JR Shibusawa Station (渋川駅), take Kan-etsu Transportation’s bus service bound for Ikaho Onsen (伊香保温泉行き) and get off at Bukkozen Hosuiji (佛光山法水寺).
    • The bus trip takes around 20 minutes.
  • Parking at the 4th car park is recommended if you plan to drive. The number of staircases you must climb is reduced from 238 to 80.

Discover Other Attractions Close to Bukkōsan Housui-ji Temple

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Click the photo for more travel ideas in the region!

While Housui-ji is in a relatively remote area, the temple is surrounded by a couple of interesting and unique attractions. Not to mention that it is close to one of Gunma Prefecture‘s top four onsen towns!

For more travel ideas in the area, refer to our article on The Attractions Worthwihle Visting Around Ikaho Onsen!