Although not a protected UNESCO site like the A-bomb Dome and Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima, Fudōin Temple is designated by the Japanese government an important cultural and historical treasure. Whether or not you visit because of its significance, it’s also a beautiful, peaceful and interesting place to wander around. Easy to find off the main road next to Fudōin-mae on the Astram Line.
The day I visited was quite overcast, but I was still intrigued by the temple grounds. The front gate had the two evil-looking sneering guardian statues behind a dirty, rusty fence and there were hand woven sandals hanging from the front gate – reminding me that this must be on a pilgrimage route. There is a statue of a pilgrim wearing similar hand woven sandals and in traditional costume just inside the gate.
Although I couldn’t see inside the main building, the temple at the back, the red lacquered pagoda on the side, the many interesting statues and the red torii and inari shrine at the back kept my interest for at least an hour.
The Fudōin Temple grounds were very serene and beautiful when I visited. A few visitors and worshipers came and went while I wandered around taking it all in. I love the kata-kata-kata sound made when someone pulls the large prayer beads in front of the temple while making an offering.
I was entranced by the verdant green momiji maple leaves contrasting with the red torii gate and inari shrine as well as in juxtaposition to the sweeping roof corners of the temple. It seemed quite magical somehow.
My favorite temple area to wander around is still the mystical, Mitaki Temple which I find a more beautiful and interesting experience. However, if you have time to come to Fudōin for an hour or two as well, I am sure you will find it a worthwhile experience.
Apparently Fudōin is a significant temple in Hiroshima city as it was one of the few temples that survived the A-bomb blast. It is estimated to have been built around 1540 in another location and later moved to this area. Originally built as Aki Province’s Ankoku-ji Temple, part of a nationwide network of Zen temples established by the powerful Ashikaga brothers Tadayoshi and Takauji employed the medieval kaga-yo style, and the the kondo hall (the temple’s main structure) employs some very long and impressive wooden beams, and is the largest remaining building in this style in Japan.
There are also supposed to be beautiful paintings of beautiful maidens on the ceiling and a sitting Yakushi Buddha statue in the kondo hall – but since this is under renovation until August 2014, I’ll get back to you about that part when I revisit next year.
Fudōin Temple is set back from a main road near the Otagawa river and can easily be accessed by Astram Line monorail (Fudōin-mae Station). It is also quite a nice cycle from the station area just past the town of Ushita.
Address: 3-4-9 Ushita-shinmachi, Higashi-ku, Hiroshima-shi
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