I recently visited Enichi-ji, a temple in Bandai Town.
The temple was founded about 1200 years ago at the foot of Mt Bandai, but was destroyed and abandoned during the early Meiji period, when there was a widespread movement to abolish Buddhism in favour of Shintoism.
Although the various buildings included in the temple grounds were destroyed, Enichi-ji is thought to include the oldest original temple foundation stones in the whole of Tohoku – so it is a pretty special area.
Registered as a national historic site in 1970, enabling the start of reconstruction and conservation efforts.
The main temple site includes English language information signs, so you can learn all about this Buddhist temple and the lifestyle of the monks who studied here.
The main hall of the temple was rebuilt in 2008, and the space in front of the hall is used for concerts and other events throughout the year.
An Amazing Venue
Every June, an event called Tsukimachi no Akari (Light of the Moon-Waiting Party) is held, where 600 candles placed in decorative lanterns are arranged in front of the main hall. It would definitely be an amazing time of year to visit the temple, I would definitely like to go in the future.
In the spring, a music event called Haru no Gagaku (Springtime Court Music) is performed by Aizu Tengakai. This is the same group of performers who play at the annual Aizu Festival in September. Enichi-ji is a lot smaller than Tsuruga-jo Castle, where the Aizu Festival is held, making for an intimate venue for a special event like this.
Make Sure to Check Out the Nearby Area
My favourite part of visiting Enichi-ji was exploring the countless temples and shrines scattered around the area. The scenery that you can see from the side road to the right of the main hall is seriously stunning, and I think it made the area definitely worth visiting.
After looking up some information on these buildings, this is what I found…
These gates having been standing in the Enichi-ji Temple Site since the late Edo era, but may be older.
In fact, the two quite scary figures who guard the temple gate on either side date back to mid Edo era.
Buddhist Monk Medicinal Hall (薬師堂*)
This building was rebuilt in 1889 after being badly damaged.
* this word is really hard to translate, so if you have a better translation, please tell me!!
Tucked away to the east of the temple site and the Niomon Gates, it is thought that this temple has been standing here from even before Enichi-ji was built.
Quite an eerie place – but very interesting! Tokuitsu is the name of a celebrated Hosso Sect Buddhist monk, who worked all over Japan during his lifetime, in the early Heian Era (Heian era= 794-1185). A five storey tomb, thought of as Tokuitsu’s tomb, is kept inside this building, and the building is surrounded by and guarded by the tombs of his followers, who are thought to protect him even now.
This is a really amazing, historic area of Fukushima. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are passing through Bandai or Urabandai area!
That’s all for this post
15 minute walk from Bandai Cho Station
By Car / Taxi
7 minute drive from Bandai Kawa Higashi IC
- Fukushima Prefecture Tourism Assocation Website
- Bandai Town’s Website (It’s all in Japanese, but you can see some cool photos of the main hall reconstruction process in action)
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