Visit to Rinzai School Buttsuji Temple!
What was good, and what was not so good
Article for children
Located in the mountains of the city of Miharaa, Hiroshima Prefecture, Buttsū-ji Temple is the westernmost of the great head temples of the Rinzai sect in Japan and is the only one that is west of Kyoto.
It’s a serene environment surrounded by nature, it is a tranquil environment, and just stopping by provides you with a feeling of calmness and being refreshed. In an area not great in size, there is still plenty to see, including important cultural assets. It is recommended not just for the practitioners of the Rinzai school, but also for those who like temples that are not major and those who want to enjoy visiting a temple in a natural setting.
Conversely, there is also the fact that there are some negative aspects due to its out-of-the-way setting and its location in the mountains.
Therefore, this time I have attempted to summarize the good points, bad points, and points that could be improved, based on my own actual experience of visiting Buttsū-ji.
For those contemplating a visit to Buttsū-ji in the future, please read through this as it will be helpful in terms of planning your schedule and preparing for the visit.
Buttsū-ji’s good points
I have summarized the good things about Buttsū-ji. In addition to its nice surroundings in nature, other good points are that the restrooms are clean, and the grounds are well arranged, despite being in the midst of nature.
Surrounded by nature and healing
Buttsū-ji is a temple that is located in the mountains, a bit removed from the nearest village, and is surrounded by abundant nature. When visiting the temple, as you will inevitably have to walk through the mountains to reach the temple, you will also receive the healing benefits of nature. Once you descend the stone steps, you will see a brook, and if you close your eyes to listen to the babbling of its waters, it will surely be a precious moment.
The people are few, which makes for a tranquil visit
Although Buttsū-ji is a head temple of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, there are usually few other visitors to the temple, possibly because it is not a famous tourist spot, so to speak, and the limited access of the temple to public transportation.
Even when you go out of your way to visit a temple, there are times when the crowds of people fray your nerves, or you may not be able enjoy your visit at a leisurely pace; however, at Buttsū-ji one can pay your respects in a calm and unhurried manner.
※However, please take note that there seem to be many visitors to the temple during the autumn foliage season.
The prayer locations are in compact order
There are some temples where you have to cover a large area to walk around and see all of the sites, but at Buttsū-ji many of the prayer locations are situated within an area that is not so large (especially within the temple grounds), which lets visitors circulate through the temple without having to spend long periods of time traversing between each of the sites.
Be warned, however, that some of the prayer locations are on steep stairs, so be a little prepared to do some walking.
Parking nearby is available
Buttsū-ji has three parking lots, numbers 1 to 3. Of these, parking lot number 3 is directly in front of the temple, so visitors can go offer their prayers as soon as they step out of their cars. As there is ample parking, you should have no problem finding a parking spot, aside from during the fall colors season.
At the time of my visit, parking was free, but during the autumn foliage season, some people said there is a charge of 500 yen for parking.
- Parking Lot Number 2 is adjacent to the site.
I recommend parking here if you come by car.
- There is ample parking in Parking Lot Number 2.
Local buses also stop here.
The restrooms are clean
There are three restrooms on the grounds of Buttsū-ji and near the parking lot. Of these, the one on the temple grounds is especially clean and is accessible to anyone without difficulty. The other two toilets are not particularly clean, but they are well maintained.
Some may worry that as this is a temple up in the mountains, the restrooms would be dirty, but this is not an issue at all at Buttsū-ji.
Buttsū-ji’s disappointing points
On the other hand, I will summarize the things that are disappointing about Buttsū-ji. As a consequence of being located out in the middle of nature, there were some apparent drawbacks concerning accessibility and other conveniences.
There is a lack of public transportation
As buses running from the nearest Hongō Station and the nearby Mihara Station connect to Buttsū-ji, you can get there by public transportation.
However, outside of the autumn colors season, there is only one bus a day from Hongō Station and two buses a day from Mihara Station. On the official website it said that "there are few buses," but by no means did I expect it to be only one or two buses per day.
Please note that return buses also leave from Buttsū-ji, but they are also extremely infrequent.
For those who live nearby, taking your own car is the easiest way to visit the temple, but aren’t there also many visitors that come from faraway places who cannot drive there in their own car?
If you are thinking of coming to pay a visit to the temple by means other than your own car, there are alternatives to the buses, such as taxis and rental cars (which can be rented around Mihara Station).
●Bus (Hongō Station to Buttsū-ji Temple): 370 yen ●Taxi, approx. 7 km (Hongō Station to Buttsū-ji Temple): around 3,000 yen
●Bus (Hongō Station to Buttsū-ji Temple): 630 yen ●Taxi, approx. 15 km (Mihara Station to Buttsū-ji Temple): around 5,000 yen
Alternatively, if you are walking from Hongō Station, it takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours, so you can walk if you want to put in the effort. Since the temple is in the mountains and there are continuous uphill slopes, if you plan to go there on foot, wear comfortable clothes and pack lightly.
There are few places to take a rest
There not many places to rest or eat on and around the site of Buttsū-ji.
Within the premises, there is one vending machine in “Parking Lot Number 2,” the closest parking lot to Buttsū-ji. There is no need to take your trash home with you after finishing your drink, as there is a recycling bin for the drink containers next to the machine. But around the parking lot, there is no area to sit, so if you want to sit and drink your juice, you will have to move on to some place a little further away where there is a bench or rest area.
- Recycle bins placed next to the vending machine.
It’s nice that you don’t need to take your empty containers home.
- Rest area with a roof and a table.
Perfect for taking shelter from the rain.
- The benches closest to the vending machine.
It’s nice to be able to take a break surrounded by nature.
Besides that, about 600 m away from Buttsū-ji, you will find a place to have a rest and get something to eat at a place called “Oshokuji-dokoro Kōyō.” It is well-known for its specialty, yomogi soba in, which yomogi (Japanese mugwort) is kneaded into the paste when making the noodles.
There is a parking lot that is far from the temple grounds
Parking Lot Number 2 is near Buttsū-ji, but Parking Lot Number 1 is 600 m from the temple, and you need to walk up a gentle slope to reach the temple. It is usually an 8 to 10 minute walk. I advise recommend that you do not park right away in the first parking lot you come across, which is Parking Lot Number 1, but instead first go to Parking Lot Number Two to see if there are any parking spots available.
Some of the prayer locations are on steep stairs, making them difficult to access
Most of the prayer locations at Buttsū-ji are set out within a compact space, and the structure makes it easy to visit the temple in an efficient way without having to do too much walk around.
However, some of the prayer spots can only be reached by climbing steep stairways built into the mountain. Moreover, this also includes the “Jizōdō, (hall dedicated to Jizō Bodhisattva),” which has been designated as an important cultural property.
Some may think that since they have come all the way to Buttsū-ji they are going to see everything but may give up once they see the stairs.
The temple is located in the mountains, so this is unavoidable, and it is best to be aware of the limits to your stamina.
- A long and steep stairway that leads to the “Jizōdō,” an important cultural property
- Jizōdō at the top of the stairs
- There is also a dazzling two-storied pagoda at the end of the stairs.
Depending on the time of year, you may not be able to go inside
When I went this time, I visited on a weekday at the end of June, but going into the indoor areas was prohibited. I wasn’t sure if this was due to a sudden occurrence or if it was not open during this season, but it is plausible that although I visited thinking I could enter but wasn’t allowed to.
If you are looking forward to seeing the interior areas, it would probably be better to call in advance to confirm whether it is open to the public or not.
Still, I have heard that it is open to the public during the autumn foliage season when a lot of visitor come, but apparently the fee to go inside is 500 yen.
- I wanted to go inside, but it looked closed to the public.
- There was a shelf to put your shoes, but entrance was prohibited. Is it okay at certain times of the year?
Here I have focused on summarizing the things that disappointed we on my visit to Buttsū-ji, a head temple of the Rinzai sect.
Buttsū-ji is located in an out-of-the-way mountainous area, and it has not only a splendid setting, and there are not too many visitors outside of the autumn foliage season, so visitors can spend a quiet and peaceful time here, but on the other hand, this out-of-the-way setting has some demerits.
Those thinking of coming to Buttsū-ji should definitely refer to this article to guide them while planning their schedule and making preparations to visit.
Located in the mountains of Mihara City in Hiroshima Prefecture, Buttsuji Temple is the westernmost of the famous Rinzai school of Zen Buddhist temples in Japan.
It’s a quiet temple surrounded by nature, giving you a very peaceful feeling when you go there. The area of the temple isn’t very large, but in that space there is a lot to see, including some important cultural properties. This is an interesting place to visit not only for followers of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, but also those who want to visit a temple that isn’t too crowded, and those who want visit a temple in a calm, natural setting.
On the other hand, getting there is a bit of a hassle since it’s in the mountains out of town.
In this article, I’ve summarized what I liked and didn’t like about Buttsuji Temple after visiting it myself.
If you’re planning to visit Buttsuji Temple, or at least thinking about it, please take a look, as my review may help you plan out your schedule and prepare for your visit.
Good points about Buttsuji Temple
First, I’ll tell you what I liked about Buttsuji Temple. The natural environment around the temple is very nice, and the sights to see are well organized and clean, even the restrooms.
Surrounded by nature and very relaxing
Buttsuji Temple is in the mountains a bit of a distance from town and surrounded by rich nature. The walk to the temple is through the mountains, so you get to take in all the nature along the way. When you head down a set of stone steps and come to a stream, you’ll find that closing your eyes and listening to the sound of the water is a very enjoyable experience.
There are few people, making for a peaceful visit
Buttsuji Temple is a very important temple for the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, but as a tourist attraction it’s not very famous. Not a lot of buses go there, so it receives only a few visitors.
That means that there won’t be big crowds to tire you out or stop you from taking your time to see things the way you want to.
※However, please note that there seem to be more visitors during the fall season when the leaves change color.
There are a lot of things to see
At large temples, you normally have to do a lot of walking around to see everything, which can wear you out. The area of Buttsuji Temple, however, is not so large, and a lot of its sights are grouped together, so you can see what you want to see without having to walk a lot and get tired.
To see some sights you need to go up some steep stairs, though, which can be a bit difficult.
There are parking lots nearby
There are three parking lots near Buttsuji Temple, numbered from No. 1 to No. 3. Of the three, Parking Lot No. 2 is right in front of the temple, which means you’ve arrived at the temple as soon as you step out of your car. It also has room for a lot of vehicles, so aside from the fall foliage season, chances are there will always be space available here.
When I visited, there were no fees for parking, but some people have said that they charge 500 yen during the fall.
- Parking Lot No. 2 is right next to the temple grounds. If you come by car, this parking lot is the one to use.
- Parking Lot No. 2 has room for a lot of vehicles. Buses also depart from here.
The restrooms are clean
There are three restrooms on the temple grounds and near the parking lot. Of these three, the restrooms on the temple grounds are new and very clean. The other two aren’t exactly new, but they are very well cleaned.
People tend to think that temples up in the mountains have dirty restrooms, but this is definitely not the case at Buttsuji Temple.
Not-so-good points about Buttsuji Temple
Here is a summary of the things I didn’t like about Buttsuji Temple. Its location up in the mountains makes getting there very inconvenient no matter how you go.
Not much public transport access
Buses to Buttsuji Temple depart from the nearest station, Hongo Station, and the next-closest Mihara Station.
However, the actual number of buses is very low, one a day from Hongo and two a day from Mihara, though there are more buses during the fall foliage season. The official website said, “The are few buses,” but I honestly didn’t expect there to be this few.
There are also return buses that depart from Buttsuji Temple, but please keep in mind that there are very few of them.
If you live nearby you can come with your family in the family car, but this is obviously not the case if you’re traveling.
If getting around by bus or car is difficult, there are other options such as taxis and rental cars (rental cars are available at Mihara Station).
●Bus (Hongo Sta. - Buttsuji Temple): ¥370 ●Taxi, approx. 7km (Hongo Sta. - Buttsuji Temple): around ¥3,000
●Bus (Mihara Sta. - Buttsuji Temple): ¥630 ●Taxi, approx. 15km (Mihara Sta. - Buttsuji Temple): around ¥5,000
Walking to the temple from Hongo Station is rather difficult, taking about 1-1/2 to 2 hours for an adult. If you plan to walk to the temple, make sure you’re prepared.
There are few places to rest
There are very few places in and around the temple where you can rest or eat.
Next to the temple, there’s one vending machine at Parking Lot No. 2. It has a recycling box next to it for your finished drinks, so there’s no need to take the empty can or bottle with you after you’ve finished drinking. However, there’s nowhere near the parking lot where to sit, so if you want to sit down and drink your juice, you’ll have to go to a bench or rest area a bit of a walk from there.
- There is a recycling box next to the vending machine. You don’t have to take your trash with you, which is nice.
- The rest area has chairs and a table, and a roof, so you can rest here even when it’s raining.
- These are the benches closest to the vending machine.
Taking a rest here surrounded by all this nature is nice, too.
About 600 meters from there is a restaurant called “Momiji” where you can have a meal. It’s known for its specialty Yomogi Soba, soba noodles with Japanese mugwort kneaded into the noodles.
There is a parking lot far from the temple grounds
Parking Lot No. 2 is closer to Buttsuji Temple, but Parking Lot No. 1 is a bit further away by about 600 meters. It’s an uphill walk from that parking lot to the temple, so it would likely take at least 10 minutes.
Even if you get to Parking Lot No. 1 and there are spaces open, it’s probably best to keep on going to see if you can park at No. 2.
Steep steps can make getting to some places difficult
The grounds of Buttsuji Temple aren’t that large, so you can see plenty of things without having to walk all over the place.
Some of the highlights of the temple, however, can only be reached by climbing steep steps built into the mountain. One of those difficult-to-reach places is Jizo Hall, an important cultural property.
If you’ve made the effort to come all the way to Buttsuji Temple, you’re going to want to see everything you can, but seeing steps like that might sour your mood.
Since the temple is in the mountains, having to climb steps is unavoidable, but if you want to see Jizo Hall, it’s going to take some effort to get there.
- The steps up to the important cultural property Jizo Hall are long, and rather steep.
- Jizo Hall, located at the top of a set of mountain steps.
- Seeing the beautiful pagoda also requires you to climb a set of steps.
There are some times when you cannot go inside the temple buildings
I made my visit on a weekday at the end of June, but I wasn’t able to enter the temple buildings. I don’t know if it was just that day, or if they only let people in depending on the season, but I was looking forward to going inside, so it was a real letdown when I couldn’t.
If you’re looking forward to going inside the temple buildings when you visit, it may be a good idea to call before you go to make sure if you can.
I heard that the buildings were open to the public during the fall foliage season when there are a lot of visitors, but also that it costs 500 yen to get in.
- I wanted to go inside, but it apparently wasn’t open.
- There is a shoe box, but entry is prohibited. Maybe there are times when it’s okay to enter?
In summary, here is a rundown of what I liked and didn’t like about my visit to Buttsuji Temple, the head temple of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.
The temple’s location away from town up in the mountains gives it a nice environment where you can enjoy a pleasant and tranquil experience without the bother of a lot of other visitors, except during its busy fall foliage season. But since it’s up in the mountains, there are a few things that make getting there difficult.
If you’re thinking about going to Buttsuji Temple, please feel free to use this article to help you plan and prepare for your visit.