Situated on the northern side of Sendai’s downtown area is a temple at may seem a little more humble than most, but it’s got a lot more to show. The Rinnoji Temple seems almost unexceptional, however don’t let its exterior fool you, tucked behind the temple’s main hall sits an exquisite Japanese garden and impressive pagoda that would be a crime to miss if you’re travelling through the Sendai area. Webbed with a network of pathways, it’s possible to lose an afternoon strolling around the beautiful garden grounds, soaking up the sites and meeting the garden’s resident koi (colorful carp).
The temple was originally founded back in 1441 by Date Mochimune, a member of Date clan, and the one responsible for ruling over large parts of northern Japan during the Edo period. As the clan moved throughout Japan, the temple went with them, jumping from location to location before settling down in it’s current location with the Date clan in the 1600s, when Lord Masamune started building the city of Sendai. Since finding its permanent home the temple and it surrounding buildings have all be carefully restored to their original appearances, giving guests a true idea of the architecture of the time.
What you see today of the temple is actually a full reconstruction. Following Date Masamune’s move to Sendai the entire temple was destroyed by fire in 1876, leaving just the Niomon gate as its only surviving element. In 1915 the temple was rebuilt with a keen attention to detail, making sure its appearance was true to its original form. When the rebuild was taking place, special attention and a huge amount of effort was placed on the temple grounds and their surrounding gardens. As a result the garden has become one of the most impressive of the entire Tohoku region.
The temple grounds are made up of a number of important individual elements that come together to form an impressive harmonious site. The first structures that will capture your attention on arrival are arguably the impressive three and five story pagodas that sit behind the main hall. Beyond them the temple also houses a tearoom and finally the stunning garden. The temple grounds also play host to a number of interesting events, every Saturday there’s a Zen meditation meeting held which is open to the public. Once a month there’s another event which sees the transcribing of Buddhist sutras and imagery in the pursuit of enlightenment called "shakyo" and "shabutsu” , it too is open for anyone who would like to join and try shakyo or shabutsu first hand.
If you’re getting around the area via public transport, the best way to get to Rinnoji Temple is by catching the JR line. From Sendai station take the JR Senzan Line for 10 minutes until you get to Kitayama station. From there the temple grounds is an easy 10 minute walk. The trip will take about 20 minutes and cost 200 yen. If you’re going by car the trip down the Tohoku Expressway to Sendai Miyagi IC is 4.5 kms long and will take only 16 minutes from Sendai to the temple grounds. Be aware that the temple gardens are open from 8am until 5pm daily with no closed days and admission is 300 yen.
- Facility Name
- Miyagi Pref. Sendaishi Aoba-ku Yamatemachi
- Information Sources:
- NAVITIME JAPAN