Japan Temples: Jion-zenji Temple, Gujo Hachiman
Jionzenji Temple 慈恩禅寺,郡上八幡
Jionzenji Temple is a delightful Rinzai Zen temple in Gujo Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture.
Jionzenji is known for its lovely Zen garden which can be viewed from a large tatami room inside the temple.
Jionzenji Temple was founded in the 16th century by the feudal lord Endo Yoshitaka, who was lord of Gujo Hachiman Castle after the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. The head priest of the temple, Hanzan, was appointed with the blessing of Enmyo, an abbot of Myoshinji Temple in Kyoto.
Jionzenji's grounds contain the mausoleums of the last four feudal lords of Gujo Hachiman. The temple buildings were restored in 1896 during the Meiji Period after a flood unfortunately destroyed the originals three years previously. The main hall contains a statue of the historical Buddha.
Jionzenji's main draw is its beautiful Tetsuso-en Garden complete with central pond and waterfall and known for its autumn colors.
The garden was laid out at the foot of a hill by the first head priest Hanzan. The sounds of the waterfall are the perfect background resonance for quiet meditation. The garden, along with stepping stones and stone lanterns, also includes a device known as suikin kutsu - an upturned earthen jar with a hole in the "bottom" (which actually forms the top), which is placed underneath a stone basin. Water from the basin drops through the hole and into the jar creating a regular, resonating "plop" that calms and soothes. On the other side of the large tatami room for viewing Tetsuso-en is a smaller Zen rock garden.
The books of Yorikane Kanamori, a feudal lord of Gujo during the Edo Period, who did much to preserve the landscape of the garden, are treasures of the temple.
Shimadani 339, Hachiman-cho
Gujo, Gifu 501-4222
Tel: 0575 65 2711
Admission: 300 yen
Access - how to get to Jionzenji Temple
Jionzenji is less than 10 minutes walk south from the Gujo-Hachiman Tourist Information Center located just over Shinbashi Bridge, on the south side of the Yoshida River. If you're coming from northern side of the Yoshida River, such as from Jokamachi Plaza Bus Station (for buses to Nagoya and Shirakawa-go) or the Gujo-Hachiman Hakurankan Museum (郡上八幡博覧館), also walk south and cross Shinbashi Bridge.
Once you've crossed the bridge veer a little right and then follow the left bank of the stream that goes at right-angles away from the river. You can access the temple about 250 m up the road, turning left at the sixth road on your left.
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