The Largest Wooden Kannon Bosatsu in Japan: Fukusenji, Tono

Date: 24th May 2019

During my trip to Tohoku Region at the end of spring, I visited Tono, a small city in Iwate Prefecture also known as the city of folklore thanks to the many folk legends written in Tono Monogatari by Yanagita Kunio. I had one day to explore the city and managed to visit the Tono Furusato Village, Fukusenji, Takashimizu Observatory, and Denshoen, aside from savouring Jingisukan for lunch.

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Kappa, the mystical yokai in Japanese folklore

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In this post we will explore Fukusenji (福泉寺), a Shingon-sect of Buddhism temple founded in 1912. I parked at the space opposite the temple, but it seems that it is possible to drive into the temple’s grounds and park uphill. The temple grounds were spacious and were full of hills so getting around was pretty tiring.

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The main temple houses the largest wooden Kannon Bosatsu statue in Japan at 17-m high which was completed in 1963, carved out from a single tree. Photography inside the main hall is not allowed. Just next to the main hall is a Tahoto pagoda built in 1982, which enshrines the Godai Myo-o (The Five Great Wisdom Kings) and the Shittenou (The Four Heavenly Kings).

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The main hall
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The Tahoto Pagoda

Around this time, I started noticing the presence of bees which was amplified by signs to be wary of them. Next was to walk down a series of stairs which I did in a hurry only to find insects I have not seen in my entire life along the way. I finally reached where the five story pagoda would be. The five story pagoda is relatively new, erected in 1990 by famous miyadaiku temple carpenter, Kikuchi Kyoji. The atmosphere around here was not exactly one I was fond of so I quickly continued downhill again.

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The five-story pagoda

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I was finally back near the admission office and went on to the Chinese-styled gates before ending my visit. Fukusenji is worth a visit when you are in Tono, especially during the cherry blossom season at the end of April and the fall foliage season in October. It’s difficult to miss this if you are making a trip to the Tono Furusato Village since they are not far away from each other.

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Info

Opening days: April to December. In January to March the temple is only open on Sundays.

Opening hours: 08:00 – 17:00

Admission fee: 300 yen

Access

From Tono Station, take the bus towards Sakanoshita (22 minutes) and alight at Fukusenji. Note that there are only 5 buses per day.

How to get to Tono Station:

  • From Shin-Hanamaki Station, take JR Kamaishi Line (45 mins, 760 yen)
  • From Kamaishi Station, take JR Kamaishi Line (1 hour, 840 yen)

Another way of getting around Tono is by bicycle, but might be tiring due to the hilly landscape of Tono. If you can’t be bothered with cycling, rental car is a good option – you can choose to rent from Kitakami Station or Shin-Hanamaki station, both of which are around a 50-minutes drive to Tono.

How to get to Kitakami Station:

  • From Sendai Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen (50 mins, 5,390 yen)
  • From Morioka Station, take the JR Tohoku Line (50 mins, 840 yen) or the Tohoku Shinkansen (20 mins, 3,100 yen)
  • From Tokyo Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen (3 hours, 13,160 yen)

How to get to Shin-Hanamaki Station:

  • From Sendai Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen (1 hour, 5,710 yen)
  • From Morioka Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen (11 mins, 2,930 yen)
  • From Tokyo Station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen (3 hours 10 mins, 13,160 yen)

 

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Author: Jennifer

Hi! I am Jennifer. I enjoy planning my own travels and love traveling in Japan - for the history, nature, temples, and the food! Read more for travel guides of places I have visited.

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