Visit Daisho-in, a Large Historical Temple in Miyajima

Jul 30 2020
Sep 03 2020
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Daisho-in temple is located in Miyajima, Hiroshima and is known to be one of the most
prestigious and historical temples in Japan. Touch the prayer wheels with beautiful golden
letters for blessings as you climb up the stairs. Learn about the teachings of Shingon
Buddhism. Relax in the sacred Mount Misen’s peaceful atmosphere.

A prestigious Buddhist temple of the Shingon sect

daishoin

Photograph provided by Courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture

If Miyajima is on your list of places to visit in Japan, then you are probably looking forward to seeing the Itsukushima Shrine and the Tori gate in the water at high tide. It is no doubt a must-see- the mindblowing view is one of Japan’s three best views, and Itsukushima shrine is designated as a National Treasure or Important Cultural Properties. However, there are many other places worth visiting on the island too- one being the Daisho-in Temple. Daisho-in Temple is a prestigious Shingon Buddhist temple located at the foot of the holy Mount Misen in Miyajima, Hiroshima. It was founded in 806 by the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, Kobo Daishi (Kukai). It is the oldest and most significant temple on the island.

The Temple seems to spread out over a vast area of the slope of the mountain. At first glance, Daisho-in temple may seem insignificant as it is hidden in trees. However, for many centuries, until the separation of Buddhism and Shintoism, it played significant roles in the island’s religious history, such as governing all priests in Miyajima, and conducting all religious ceremonies that took place in Itsukushima Shrine.

Touch the scriptures for good blessings

daishoin

Photograph provided by Courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture

Daisho-in temple is made up of beautiful buildings on every level of Mount Misen.

When you get there, you first reach the main gate, Niomon gate that has two guardians that ward off evil to your right and to your left.

When going up the steps, you will see 500 Rakan Statues, all of them with different facial expressions. Look closely at each one, and find your favorite. One major thing to note is that there are statues placed all over the temple in various places, and some of them are cute and funny. You’ll be surprised to see some peeking at you, dancing, doing martial arts, rolling around, or playing board games. It’s known to be a temple with a sense of humor.

At the Reiho-kan Hall, you will encounter a display of the temple’s treasures, one of which is designated as an important cultural asset by the Japanese government.

You will naturally encounter many images, including the 1000 Fudo myo-o, Immovable King, and 33 Incarnated Kannon Images, while breathing in fresh air of the sacred mountain.

You will also find Mani Wheels (prayer wheels) along the stairs. Spinning the wheels is believed to bring blessings because it is considered as equivalent to reading one volume of the Hannya-shinkon (Heart Sutra), which represents the heart of the great wisdom, one of the most well known of the sutras.

Enjoy the Buddhist teachings as you take a walk in the huge temple

daishoin

Photograph provided by Courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture

At another set of stairs, you will come across another six hundred volumes of Dai-hannyakyo Scripture prayer wheels in golden letters. It is said that a Chinese monk named Sanzo brought it over from India It is believed that touching those will bring enormous fortune.

At the Shaka Nehan Hall, you will see a Buddha statue on its side surrounded by 16 disciples.

Worshippers go to the Maniden Hall to pray, where the Sanki Daigongen and the Three Awesome Deities of Mount Misen are enshrined. You can also go to Maniden Bodaisho Room to take a look at the 1,000 images of Amida Nyorai (Buddha of Inifinite Light) or go to the Henjokutsu Cave, a cave with bright lanterns that symbolize the 88 temples of the prestigious pilgrimage route on Shikoku Island. Those lanterns are believed to bring the same blessings as those who have made the pilgrimage to all of the temples. There are many other halls and statutes you will encounter as you walk around the temple.

misen

Photograph provided by Courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture

While you are there you can enjoy hiking up Mount Misen, the highest mountain (535 meters) on Miyajima. The Daisho-in course has many amazing views- one being a beautiful view of the Torii gate from above. It is not too steep and well-paved, making it easy to walk. The path is 3 kilometers and involves climbing more than 2,000 steps to the top. You’ll pass by Takinomiya Shrine and Shiraito Falls. There are two other major hiking trails. One is the Momijidani course, which is 2.5 kilometers long. If you go to Miyajima in the autumn, you will want to take this course as you will see lots of Japanese maple trees in fall color.

The other hiking trail is the Omoto trail, which is 3.2 kilometers. You’ll see 100 year old large fir trees, and pass by large forests. Some tourists have mentioned they felt like they were in a fairy tale while they are hiking up this trail.

All of the courses will take about 2-3.5 hours so keep that in mind when you decide to take a hike.

miyajima ropeway

Photograph provided by Courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture

If you don’t want to walk that much, use the Miyajima ropeway as it will take you near the summit. Bear in mind you’ll still need to walk 100 meters or so until the observation deck.

momiji manju

After your trip up the mountains, try some of the momiji manju sold all over the island. It’s a famous Miyajima souvenir. Different flavors are available; from the traditional smooth sweet bean paste, to chocolate and cheese. You can also try the deep fried momij manju as they are becoming increasingly popular. Or if it’s summer, a momii icecream might help you beat the heat.

How to visit?

The shortest way to get to Hiroshima from Tokyo is by air (approx. 90 minutes). Take a domestic flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima airport and then a limousine bus to JR Hiroshima station (about 1 hour). Take the Sanyo Honsen Line from JR Hiroshima station to JR MIyajimaguchi station. Walk to Miyajimaguchi ferry port and ride the ferry for about 10 minutes.

Address: 210 Takimachi, Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi-city, Hiroshima (Daisho-in Temple)
TEL: 81-829-44-0111

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Daishoin Temple (Hiroshima) Hiroshima
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Mt. Misen Hiroshima

Reference list

http://visit-miyajima-japan.com/en/culture-and-heritage/spiritual-heritage-temples-shrines/daisho-in.html
http://www.miyajima.or.jp/english/spot/spot_daishoin.html

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