Tourist spot in Matsushima

Zuiganji temple [瑞巌寺]

Main gate of Zuiganji
Main gate of Zuiganji

Main Hall of Zuiganji
Main Hall of Zuiganji
Photo by Zuiganji

Zuiganji is a Buddhist temple of Rinzai sect, a branch of Zen Buddhism in Japan.
It is located 0.5 km north of JR Matsushima-kaigan station.
Godaidou is located about 0.5 km southeast of this temple.

An ancient document says that this temple was founded in 828 by Priest En-nin.
Originally this temple was the temple for Tendai sect which is not Zen Buddhism.

But Hojo Tokiyori, a regent of Kamakura period in the middle of the 13th century, had felt in love with Zen Buddhism.

So he got rid of the monks of Tendai sect by force in the 1250s.
After that, this temple became Rinzai sect.

In the 16th century, this temple involved in provincial wars, then it had laid in ruin.
Date Masamune, a leading warlord in this region, decided to reconstruct this temple, then the noble temple was completed in 1609.

Kuri (priest's kitchen) of Zuiganji
Kuri (priest's kitchen)
Photo by Zuiganji

Garyubai of Zuiganji
Photo by Zuiganji

Main Hall and a few buildings in the site are designated as national treasures and important cultural properties.
And two gate and many pictures and statues in the temple are important cultural properties.

There are two important ume (Japanese plum) trees named Garyubai (臥龍梅).

They were planted by Date Masamune at the celebration of the completion of this temple in 1609.
One tree has red blossoms and another tree has white blossoms in the middle of April.

Cave temples of Zuiganji
Cave temples of Zuiganji

Cedar trees in Zuiganji
Cedar trees in Zuiganji

Out of the site, there are some cave temples.
Rock cliff is hollowd out, and a lot of stone Buddha statues and stone stupas ramain in the caves.

These are thought to have been constructed between the 17th and the 19th centuries.

From November in 2008 to June in 2018, large scale renovation of whole temple was conducted.

During the renovation, the Great East Japan Earthquake occured in 2011.
But the damage was held to a minimum.

The approach from the coast to the entrance of the temple is about 300 meters long.
It was a beautiful road lined with about 400 year-old cedar trees.

But the tsunami rushed to the point of 200 meters from the coast.
Many trees were damaged by the salt water of the tsunami, so some hundreds of the trees had to be cut down.

The approach is a little dreary now.


How to get here

About 500 meters walk from JR Matsushima-kaigan station.
About 500 meters walk from Godaidou.

Other Tourist Attractions in Matsuhima

Kanrantei Godaidou temple Entsuin mausoleum Oshima island Fukuura Island

Return to Matsushima Return to Miyagi Prefecture Return to Tohoku Region