Ancient in every sense, Heisenji Temple in the city of Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture, stands at the start of the trail to the sacred Mount Hakusan, where it was built over 1000 years ago. For this reason, it is often called Hakusan Heisenji Temple. It came into being as a Buddhist temple, but was converted into a Shinto shrine during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), during which time it was designated as Fukui’s prefectural shrine.
Set in strikingly verdant surroundings, Heisenji Temple is one of Japan’s so-called “moss temples.” The vast structure fell victim to fire in the late 16th century when the temple was burnt to the ground during the Echizen Ikkō-ikki uprising, but present-day excavation efforts continue to succeed in recovering lost relics of the shrine’s past, resulting in the 200 hectares surrounding the temple being designated a National Historic Site.
Visitors can take in a sense of living history from every stone—even the path underfoot has been consecrated, with each of the stones featuring carved images from the Lotus Sutra.
The temple complex includes Mitarashinoike Pond, swathed in mystery and home to the legendary spirits of Mount Hakusan. A stone’s throw away is the main hall, built by the lord of Fukui in 1795, where the spirits of the three Hakusan mountains are enshrined. Heisenji Temple remains a quiet and peaceful spiritual oasis, a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Hours: The grounds are open year-round.
Admission: Free, but there is a 50 yen fee to enter Old Genjo-in Teien (a National Site of Scenic Beauty).
Address: Heisenji, Heisenji-cho, Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture
Airport: Komatsu Airport
+81-779-88-1591 (Heisenji Hakusan Jinja Office)
From Katsuyama Station ride the Dainagon bus bound for Heisenji Temple for approximately 13 minutes. Please note that the bus does not operate from December to mid-March.
By car, take the Chubu-Jukan Expressway for approximately 20 minutes, then take the Katsuyama IC and drive for approximately 15 minutes.