Top choice in Iwate Prefecture

Established in AD 850 by the priest Ennin, the Chūson-ji complex was expanded by the Ōshu Fujiwara family in the 12th century. A total of 300 buildings with 40 temples were constructed. Ironically, the family's grand scheme to build a Buddhist utopia was destroyed when a massive fire ravaged nearly everything in 1337. Only two of the original structures, the Konjiki-dō and Kyōzō, remain, alongside more recent reconstructions. The sprawling site is reached via a steep cedar-lined avenue.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Iwate Prefecture attractions

1. Kyōzō

0.04 MILES

One of only two original constructions remaining on the Chūson-ji site, this understated building guarded by Kishi Monju Bosatsu and Four Attendants…

2. Konjiki-dō

0.04 MILES

Gilded and gleaming up to its eaves, with elaborate lacquerwork and mother-of-pearl inlay throughout, the Konjiki-dō, in the Chuson-ji complex, was at the…

3. Hiraizumi Cultural Heritage Center

0.89 MILES

This modest, friendly museum charts Hiraizumi's rise and fall through visual displays and artefacts, with English explanations throughout.

4. Mōtsū-ji

1.09 MILES

Established by the priest Ennin in AD 850 at the same time as Chūson-ji, Mōtsū-ji was once Tōhoku’s largest and grandest temple complex. The buildings are…

5. RIAS Ark Museum of Art

25.62 MILES

High in the hills above Kesennuma, this local art museum houses the largest collection of photographs and artefacts in existence relating to the 2011…

6. Ippon-matsu

28.27 MILES

More than 70,000 pine trees lined the coastline around Rikuzen-takata until 2011, when all but one were destroyed in the tsunami. That tree, known as the…

8. Tsuzuki-ishi

29.65 MILES

A curious rock that rests amid aromatic cedars, Tsuzuki-ishi is either a natural formation or a dolmen (primitive tomb). A short, steep hike rewards you…