Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Motsuji – The Temple with the Most Gorgeous Pure Land Garden

Just a 7-minute walk from JR Hiraizumi Station, you will find the front gate of Motsuji (毛越寺), a temple with the most picturesque Buddhist Pure Land Garden in the country.

Although the gate looks rather ordinary, it was originally Ichinoseki Castle’s front gate! The gate was only relocated to where it is now in 1921.

To fully appreciate the temple, you will probably want to allocate at least 40 minutes to an hour here (‘ω’)ノ.

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A List of Attractions in Motsuji Temple

The admission fee is payable at this front gate (refer to HERE for more information).

The Highlights of Motsuji Temple – The Pure Land Garden (浄土庭園)

Motsuji Temple Hiraizumi pure land garden
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Soon after you pass the front gate, the Pure Land Garden is on your right-hand side. The garden was built, imaging the Pure Land described in the Buddhism sutra.

With this beautiful scenery in front of you, surely your heart is purified already!

The garden is even more stunning with the vibrant fall color blended with blue sky and lake in late October to early November each year!

Hondō Hall (本堂) – Main Hall

The main hall was built back in AD 850 by Jikaku Daishi (慈覚大師). Having a similar fate to the Chūsonji Temple, the hall we see today was also rebuilt after it was burnt down.

The main Buddha here is the Healing Buddha (Yakushi Nyorai, 薬師如来). Worshipping him is said to bring you health and the cure of illness.

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The reason why the main Buddha is Yakushi Nyorai is due to the Legend of Motsuji’s founding (more details on their official website HERE). It is said that the incarnation of the healing Buddha guided Jikaku Daishi, who erected the Motsuji Temple here.

Kaisandō Hall (開山堂)

Motsuji Temple Hiraizumi kaisando hall
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At the far end of the temple’s grounds, you will find this gorgeous building. It is a hall commemorating the founder of the Motsuji Temple, Jikaku Daishi.

Jōgyōdō Hall (常行堂)

At Jōgyōdō Hall, you can worship the Amida Buddha as well as the four bodhisattvas. And if you are really lucky, you will also be able to meet the hidden Deity – Matarajin.

The temple only opens up to the back of the hall, where Matarajin is exhibited to the public every 33 years. He is not only a God who looks after the areas’ harvest, but he also protects the Buddhist praxis and halls!

In front of the Jōgyōdō Hall, there is a bell tower. With 500 yen, you will be able to write your wishes on a wooden plate and offer them to the Buddhas and Matarajin. The small ritual ends with you joining your hands together to show your appreciation and ring the bell (^_-)-☆.

Festivals and Events at Motsuji Temple

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There are several festivals and events held at Motsuji Temple throughout the year.

Most of the events have rich cultural elements involved. So if you happen to travel to Iwate Prefecture around those dates, you will probably want to plan your visit to Hiraizumi accordingly (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Click HERE to access Motsuji Temple’s official events calendar!

It is also probably worthwhile to note here that the temple does provide the below two experiences, albeit they usually require at least 10 people to attend, and booking in advance is required.

  • Sitting meditation
  • Copying Buddhist sutra using calligraphy

Dining at Motsuji Temple

If you are after some traditional Japanese cuisine or sweets, visit the Shōfuan Restaurant (松風庵) at Motsuji Temple! You can click HERE for their menu to plan your visit ahead. We have confirmed with the temple that the broth does not contain animal-derived ingredients!

Motsuji Temple’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • 8:30 am ~ 5 pm between the 5th of March to the 4th of November
  • 8:30 am ~ 4:30 pm between the 5th of November to the 4th of March
  • Adults: 700 yen
  • Senior high school students: 400 yen
  • Elementary and junior high school students: 200 yen

It is possible to pre-purchase your tickets HERE. But as there aren’t any discounts with this option (and plus the website is in Japanese), it is probably only beneficial for you to do so if you want to pay by methods of payments other than cash (or if there is a long queue in front of the ticket office when you get there).

Explore Other Astonsoihing Temples in Hiraizumi

平泉町_達谷窟毘沙門堂
Click the photo for more information about this spot!

Your visit to Hiraizumi shouldn’t stop at Motsuji. Other fascinating temples in the town are worth your time.

To find out about other great attractions in the town, refer to our article on Hiraizumi!

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