Walk silently along the mossy approach
The shrine’s approach is covered with a velvet carpet of moss. With massive cedar trees planted along the side, it feels as if time has stopped here. Along with Saihoji Temple in Kyoto, Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is known as one of Japan’s most famous kokedera (“moss temples”). Although not a large temple, this quiet space seems far removed from the modern secular world, offering a perfect silence that many temples and shrines in Kyoto or Nara cannot provide.
Wrapped in mystery—sacred ground for the mountain faith.
Many aspects of the history of Heisenji Hakusan shrine are unclear. The sacred Mount Hakusan was established as a base for mountain worship in 717. In its long history, the shrine has been burned down by war, has been rebuilt, and has later fallen into decay. The shrine precincts comprise 200 hectares, with excavations even now underway. In the south grounds, as many as 3600 monks’ residences once stood, with many paving stones still being uncovered by excavations.
Visit the Mitarashinoike Pond and the hall of worship built during the Edo period.
Walk along the mossy path to the shrine and you will see the Mitarashinoike Pond. The legendary spirits of Mount Hakusan are said to have appeared at this pond, lending the spot a mysterious atmosphere. Advancing further in, you will come across the hall of worship, which was reconstructed in the late Edo period. Its humble exterior, perfectly integrated with nature, is beautiful. Nearby is the main hall, built by the lord of Fukui in 1795. The spirits of the three Hakusan mountains are enshrined here. After visiting the two inner shrines, return slowly along the approach. Back in the old days, monks would come down the mountain road while being refreshed by this mossy path.
Heisenji Hakusan Shrine
- 56-63 Heisenji, Heisenji-cho, Katsuyama-shi, Fukui-ken
- Opening hours
- Always open for viewing
- Komatsu Airport is a 1-hour flight from Haneda Airport. Fukui Station is about 1 hour by shuttle bus from Komatsu Airport. Katsuyama Station is about 54 minutes from Fukui Station on the Echizen railway line. The Heisenji-jinja-mae stop is about 15 minutes by bus from Katsuyama station. After getting off, walk about 5 minutes.