Heisenji Hakusan Shrine


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A sacred place, where the pilgrimage route to Mount Hakusan begins

Mount Hakusan has been the object of worship since ancient times, both as a guardian deity of the people and a god of water. Ascetic monks would climb the mountain as a pilgrimage, and even laypeople came to Mount Hakusan to worship. There are three routes to the summit of Mount Hakusan, one from each of the three feudal domains of Echizen, Kaga, and Mino. It is said that Hakusan Heisenji temple was established at the beginning of the 8th century by the monk Taicho to serve as the base point for the Echizen route. The pilgrimage route to Mount Hakusan, called the Echizen Zenjodo, starts from the Sannomiya Shrine in the most secluded part of the grounds. One of the 100 Historical Roads of Japan, the route leads through a grove of cedars, then follows a ridgeline into the interior of the forest.
At the height of its glory, Heisenji was home to 8,000 monks, making it the largest religious settlement in Japan at the time. However, in the latter half of the 16th century, the entire temple was attacked and burned to the ground during the Echizen uprising. Since then, it has been partially restored and has passed quietly through the ages up to the present. In recent years, the remains of many stone-paved roads, stone walls, and monks’ residences have been discovered, painting a clear picture of the magnificent way of life that was once led within the precincts.

Waterfalls, springs, and rocks: A tour of the sights within the grounds

Mount Hakusan has three peaks called Gozengamine, Onanjimine, and Betsusan, on all of which Hakusan Heisenji has shrines where the respective deities are enshrined, with the Gozengamine Shrine being the main one. The Gozengamine Shrine enshrines the deity of Gozengamine, the highest peak on Mount Hakusan, and presents visitors with the marvelous sight of ascending and descending dragons supporting the shrine’s eaves.
The old entrance path into the temple precincts is flanked by rows of cedar trees collectively known as the Bodairin (Forest of Enlightenment). It is said that the paving stones were carried there from the banks of the Kuzuryu River by ascetic monks about 1,000 years ago, and the sense of history is palpable. There is also a spring they say was discovered by Taicho on his way up Mount Hakusan. It is said that Taicho established Heisenji in association with the spring based on a revelation from a goddess who appeared to him there. The grounds of Heisenji are filled with a variety of spots whose origins are shrouded in legend. One such spot is the Musubi Shrine. Two large stones are enshrined there that are said to have descended from heaven at the same time. Ever since, the shrine’s deity has been known as the god of wedlock.

Heisenji Hakusan Shrine


Heisenji, Heisenji-cho Katsuyama, Fukui Prefecture


Visitors can freely enter the shrine precincts


Open daily


Free of charge
Visitors are charged 50 yen to enter (reservations required) Kyugensei-in Teien (National Site of Scenic Beauty)


Heisenji Hakusan Jinja Office 0779-88-1591
Katsuyama City Sightseeing Policy Division 0779-88-81177


By car from Echizen Railway Katsuyama Sta., about 10 min By Katsuyama-shi Community Bus from Echizen Railway Katsuyama Sta. to Heisenji Jinja-mae, about 30 min (Community Bus operates only on Sundays and holidays and is unavailable during winter period.)

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