While Japan’s other World Heritage sites get more attention, Hiraizumi (平泉) is the one to see if you want to do something a little different. Most famous is its golden hall in Chuson-ji Temple, but the town is full of mini-temples, plus some impressive gardens and lakes.
- Pick up a free map from the station.
- In the summer, there is sometimes lots of cheap festival food at Kanjizaio-in Ato Lake.
Places of interest
Chuson-ji Temple (中尊寺)
Photos from the outside don’t do this temple justice. Chuson-ji Temple has a stunning gold leafed hall, that is so precious it is housed under cover from the elements. Not to be missed!
Open: 8:30-17:00 (until 16:30 in winter)
Price: Adults 800 yen, Children 200-500 yen
Yet another cool temple to check out. Around Konjiki Temple and Chuson-ji Temple there are also many amazing, free temples. See the green line on our map.
Motsu-ji Temple (毛越寺)
Alongside Chuson-ji Temple, this temple helped the town’s temples become a World Heritage site. Wonderful lake surrounded by little temples, excavation sites and a fascinating museum.
Price: Adults 500 yen, Children 100-300 yen
Kanjizaio-in Ato Lake (観自在王院跡)
Next to Motsu-ji Temple, this lake is a nice place to sit down and enjoy some good Japanese food and drink.
Mt. Kinkeisan (金鶏山)
A very easy hike that connects the two main attractions in Hiraizumi and cuts on the bus fare. This hike takes you though some interesting forests and up some small mountains. It starts on the north-east side of Motsu-ji Temple (orange line on tourist maps). Follow the path all the way to Chuson-ji Temple (中尊寺 on signs)
Hiraizumi Cultural Heritage Center (平泉文化遺産センター)
A well thought out museum that explains about Hiraizumi’s history and why it became a World Heritage site.
Open: 9:00-17:00 (Closed New Year’s holiday)
Takadachi Temple (高館義経堂)
Hiraizumi used to be very important city many years ago, but it’s end came when Minamoto no Yoshitsune was defeated as he took his last stand. This temple commemorates him.
Price: 200 yen for adults, 50 yen for children
How to get there
With the Japan Rail Pass
From Tokyo station, take the JR Shinkansen (JR bullet train) to Ichinoseki station. From here, take the JR Tohoku line to Hiraizumi station (about 3 hours).
Without the Japan Rail Pass
Get an overnight bus with Willer Express (click link at the top for English) to Morioka, then take the JR Tohoku line to Hiraizumi station (80 mins, 1490 yen)
Hiraizumi can also be visited cheaply from Sendai station on the JR Tohoku line (2 hours, 1940 yen). You will need to change trains a few times.
Recommended Hostels and Cheap Hotels
Hiraizumi is best as a day trip, so its cheapest to stay outside the town. Kitakami and Ichinoseki are best if you want to stay nearby.
APA Hotel Kitakami Ekinishi
Kajiyabekkan Ramakkoro Yamaneko Yado
A very traditional Ryokan (Japanese style hotel) in the countryside to the east of Hiraizumi. Check prices at Booking.com.