Takada Honzan temple, also known as Senju-ji, is one of the main tourist attractions in Mie Prefecture. Located in Isshinden area of Tsu city, it is popular as the largest Buddhist temple in the prefecture. Surrounded by a temple compound village, the atmosphere of past history is enchanting for the visitors.
Earthen walls with set of gates will welcome you at the entrance area enclosing beautiful buildings.
Miei-do hall, the main building used as a sacred hall, is an important cultural asset as the largest wooden structure in the prefecture. Inside the building, gold and fancy ornamentation contrasted with 725-tatami mat floor and traditional-style roof made perfect combination.
Next to Miei-do hall, there is also another hall, Nyorai-do, which was used as prayer place of Buddhist monk. The latter building was built 55 years after construction of Miei-do was completed (website in Japanese: www.senjuji.or.jp).
The spacious temple ground also has interesting lotus pond and beautiful moss garden, called Unyu-en. Inside the garden, we can find a traditional tea house located just behind the Miei-do Hall.
On the other side of temple area, have a look at the museum house, Houmotsukan, in which cultural artifacts and national treasures were kept. One of the cultural artifacts is a wooden statue of Shinran (1173-1263), the founder of the Jodo Hinsu Buddhist sect, seated with prayer beads in hands while the national treasures consist of six books archive written by Shinran, Rumors said that the Buddhist monks spread by Shinran are still exist. Shinran, himself, was popular for his teaching on salvation to Buddhist followers (online version of Asahi shimbun, August 11, 2011). Together with his autograph, the book contains Buddhist sermons, letters and codes of conduct of Honen, said to be the oldest record of history of over 700 years ago. Unfortunately, these national treasures are not displayed to the public, except for special occasions or events.
The national treasures will be displayed at the ‘Oshichiya (御七夜 or "Seven Nights") Festival. The annual event starts from January 9th to 16th. The usual quiet and peaceful temple-atmosphere will transform into a festive one with more than 100.000 worshippers and visitors gathering at the temple premises for the festivities. This event is a week-long memorial ceremony for the founders and benefactors of the Jodo-Shinshu sect of Buddhism. Innumerable shops lined along the premises, leading to the temple usually offer various goods/souvenirs to visitors.
Access: About 3 minutes walk from JR Isshinda station and 20 minutes bus ride from JR / Kintetsu Tsu station. No entrance fee is required to enter the temple except special reservation for visitor who want to have a look at the tea house and the museum building (on ordinary days).
Besides the interesting temple-buildings and event, Takada Honzan also has beautiful scenery in autumn and spring seasons. Some maple and cherry blossoms trees can be found inside the premises, too. It remains an underrated tourist spot despite the fascinating building and national treasures stored inside!
Website: http://www.senjuji.or.jp/index.php (in Japanese)