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.