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Why Chuzenji Temple is special ?
Chuzenji Temple is located on the eastern side of Chuzenjiko Lake and was built 1,300 years ago as a branch temple of the world heritage registered Nikkosan Rinnoji Temple. In the main hall is a thousand arm Kannon goddess of mercy statue carved by the Nara period monk Shodo Shonin who established the Chuzenji Temple. This statue is 5m in height and was carved from a standing tree or "tachiki", lending it the alternative name the "tachiki Kannon". Mount Nantaisan is to the north, and Chuzenjiko Lake lake spreads out before the temple, making Chuzenji Temple possibly one of the temples with the most abundant natural surroundings in Japan.
What to explore at Chuzenji Temple?
Chuzenji Temple (中禅寺, Chūzenji) stands on the eastern bank of Lake Chuzenjiko, which was named after the temple. Chuzenji's main object of worship is a six meter tall statue of Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The statue is unique for being carved out of a tree which is still rooted into the ground today.
The second story of the temple complex houses a rare assembly of all five Buddhist Deva Kings (Myo-o). The hall's ceiling spots a giant painting of a white dragon by the same artist who painted the "Crying Dragon" at Toshogu Shrine. The ceiling of the inner chamber is coffered and decorated with paintings of over a hundred flower varieties found around Nikko. From the veranda, visitors can enjoy beautiful views over Lake Chuzenjiko.
How to get to Chuzenji Temple?
Chuzenji Temple is a 20 minute walk from the Chuzenjiko Onsen bus terminal. From mid April to late November, the buses to Mount Hangetsuyama stop at the temple along the way. Get off at the Tachiki Kannon bus stop (立木観音) just outside the temple grounds.
- Breathtaking view from the corridor
- Abundant natural surroundings
- A giant painting of a white dragon
- Enjoy beautiful views over Lake Chuzenjiko
- Being unique for being carved out of a tree
2578 Chugushi Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture Japan
Tips for you
I spent New Years eve here at Chuzenji Temple. It was well worth the extra drive from central Nikko to ring in the new year at Chuzenji. The temple was quiet, and didnt have too many people (unlike Toshougu) so it was a nice place. The surrounding area is beautiful, and I would highly recommend the visit if you are in the area.