One of Japan's three major scenic spots, Matsushima in Miyagi Prefecture, is home to Entsuin Temple. Also known as the matchmaking temple, it is also a popular thing to see in Matsushima for many tourists.
There are many fun things to do at Entsuin Temple in addition to walking in its beautiful garden, making original prayer beads, and praying! The autumn leaves when illuminated is a sight you really must see.
The matchmaking Goddess of Mercy looks out on Entsuin Temple's beautiful garden
Many temples related to the Date Clan still remain in Matsushima-machi, Miyagi Prefecture. This place is not only famous for Zuiganji, a national treasure and temple that Date Masamune rebuilt, but also as a popular tourist spot attracting many to the nearby Entsuin, famous as a matchmaking temple.
Entsuin Temple is about a 30-minute car ride on the expressway from Sendai. It is about a 5-minute walk from Matsushima Kaigan Station on the JR Sengoku Line if you go be train.
Entsuin Temple was founded in 1647 as a mausoleum for Mitsumune, the grandson of Date Masamune. The Enmusubi Kannon [Matchmaking Goddess of Mercy] is located on the left just after you enter through the thatch-roofed Sanmon Gate.
The Goddess of Mercy is said to bring together men and women or people who have not yet had a relationship and are seeking one.
Numerous small kokeshi dolls line the shelves on each side of her! Those seeking a match write what they wish for on an Enmusubi Kokeshi and offer it here. These give you a good idea of the sheer number of people who visit here to pray for a good relationship!
After leaving the Matchmaking Goddess of Mercy you will come upon two gardens. The Ama no Niwa [Garden of Heaven] rock garden represents Matsushima Bay and the Ji no Niwa [Garden of Earth] represents life. Here you can sit and leisurely admire the scene.
There is another beautiful garden in front of the main hall. This is called Enshu no Niwa [Garden of Enshu] and is said to have been created by Kobori Enshu, a famous gardener of the Edo period.
The pond is in the shape of the Japanese character for “heart” and the garden is famous for its many maple trees. In autumn their beauty is increased many times over when their leaves turn bright red.
The beauty of the Entsuin Temple gardens is transformed by each of the four seasons; in spring it is radiant with luxurious greens, in winter mantled with drifts of snow.
The mausoleum is a cultural asset having a hint of Western culture and is a must-see!
Beyond the Entsuin is the Sankeiden in which Date Mitsumune is enshrined. Mitsumune's father, Tadamune (the second-generation lord of Sendai), erected it to mourn his son's death. This is said to be the oldest mausoleum structure in Miyagi Prefecture and is designated as an important cultural asset of the country.
This small shrine is decorated with Western patterns of roses, narcissus, diamonds, clubs, hearts, and spades. According to temple legend, Hasekura Tsunenaga, a family retainer, brought back culture from Europe on which the designs were based and these are valuable resources that show the connection between Europe and Japan at that time.
Select your favorite colors and try making prayer beads!
Making a juzu, or prayer beads, is a popular activity at Entsuin. Visitors can select beads that they like and make juzu or their own original designs. There are three types of beads: natural stone, glass, and plastic. I opted for the most popular course which was the one using natural stones (small beads, 3,000 yen).
After receiving an explanation on how to make the juzu you can begin. Select a favorite color for each of the Oyadama [the largest bead], Shadama [main beads used for the 108 beads], and Niten [the two smallest beads]. There are so many to choose from I had trouble making up my mind. Normally this takes about 20 minutes, but some individuals take as much as two hours to make their selections.
After selecting the natural stones course, explanation of the each stone is provided after the juzu has been made. As each bead is explained, such as “This stone is for relieving anxiety and worry,” and so on, one seems to get a better understanding of one’s own mental state.
Making a juzu of one’s own original design is the perfect souvenir for oneself.
Viewing beautiful gardens and pleasant activities await you at the matchmaking temple. When sightseeing in Matsushima you definitely should visit here!
* This article is based on an article written in 2016 in which some parts were revised.
- Address 67 Chonai, Maatsushiima, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi Prefecture
- Phone Number 022-354-3206
Visiting time: 8:30 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (Late October ~ November 8:30 a.m. ~ 4:30 p.m., December ~ March 9:00 a.m. ~ 4:00 p.m.)
Closed: always open
Admission: General 300 yen, high school students 150 yen, elementary and junior high school students 100 yen, up to elementary school age free
Making juzu hours: 9:00 a.m. ~ 4:00 p.m. (End of October ~ November until 3:30 p.m., December ~ March until 3:00 p.m.) *If you make a juzu admission is free (excluding times when the autumn leaves are illuminated)
Viewing the autumn leaves illumination fee: high school students and older 500 yen, elementary and junior high school student age 200 yen, elementary school age and younger no charge
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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