Discover the Enchanting Moss-Covered Beauty of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine: A Complete Guide

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Heisenji Hakusan Shrine in Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture, is famous as "Moss Palace" or "Moss Temple" and is a scenic spot that is praised alongside Saihoji Temple in Kyoto. In this article, we will tell you about the hidden charms of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine.

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Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is a shrine that originated from Hakusan Heisenji Temple, which was established about 1,300 years ago as a base for worship of Mt. Hakusan. It is called "Moss Shrine of Fukui" because of the beautiful moss that spreads across the grounds.

What is Heisenji Hakusan Shrine?

Heisenji Hakusan Shrine was founded 1,300 years ago in 717 by the Echizen monk Taicho.

Heisenji soon became a base for monks and mountain ascetics worshiping Mt. Hakusan, and flourished as a religious town serving as the trailhead on the Echizen side of Mt. Hakusan. At its peak, it is said that there were 48 shrines, 36 temples, and 6,000 bōin (houses for monks) on the premises, with around 8,000 warrior monks living there.

However, it was defeated in a battle with the Ikko Ikki uprising in 1574 and burned down completely. It is said that the current grounds are just the remains of the shrine buildings that were rebuilt about 500 years ago.

The charm of Fukui's Moss Palace "Heisenji Hakusan Shrine"

Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is famous for its beautiful moss , mainly cypress moss, which covers the grounds and is especially beautiful during the rainy season from June to July .

If you visit the morning after a rain, you can see the moss sparkling in the sunlight filtering through the trees. The magnificent view of the moss in the silence of the early morning creates a fantastical atmosphere, as if you are in another world.

Access to Heisenji Hakusan Shrine

By public transport


Take the Echizen Railway "Katsuyama-Eiheiji Line" from JR Fukui Station (approx. 55 minutes)

Take the city loop bus "Gururin" Heisenji Line from the last Katsuyama, Katsuyama Station (13 minutes)

Get off at Heisenji Hakusan Shrine

Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays

Take the Echizen Railway "Katsuyama-Eiheiji Line" from JR Fukui Station (approx. 55 minutes)

From the last stop, Katsuyama Station, take the "Dynagon" sightseeing bus bound for Heisenji, or take a 10-minute taxi ride from Katsuyama Station.

By private car

From Fukui Kita JCT on the Hokuriku Expressway to the Chubu Jukan Expressway

About 15 minutes by car from Katsuyama IC *Parking available

By bicycle

Bicycle rentals are available at Echizen Railway Katsuyama Station. Please feel free to use them on sunny days.

Duration: Approximately 30 minutes

* E-bike rental plan: 2,500 yen per bike (reservation required)

* Echizen Railway bicycle rentals: Regular bicycle 100 yen per ride / Electric assist bicycle 500 yen per ride (reservations not accepted)

Click here to make a reservation

Also worth reading! How to get to Heisenji Hakusan Shrine

Highlights and recommended ways to enjoy

The moss isn't the only attraction of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine.

The grounds are dotted with large cedar trees and historical remains.
There are plenty of things to see, including Mitarai Pond, the large cedar tree at Wakamiya Shrine, and the largest cobblestone road in the Middle Ages.

Additionally, the Hakusan Heisenji Temple History Exploration Museum "Mahoroba" has exhibits related to the history and nature of Heisenji Temple, so you can enjoy it even more if you visit before worshiping.

1. A mysterious carpet of moss spreading out as far as the eye can see!

The most attractive feature of Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is the moss that covers the grounds.

The moss spreads out like a carpet, making you want to lie down on it.

The moss is mainly cypress moss, and there are over 220 species growing naturally, including in the surrounding area.
This expanse of moss is said to be one of the largest among temples and shrines in the country.

The best time to see this moss is during the rainy season from June to July , and it is said to be most beautiful the morning after the rain has stopped.

Staff recommendation: Early morning walks from June to August

The moss glittering in the sunlight filtering through the gaps in the large cedar trees is a mystical sight. Early mornings are especially recommended as there are fewer people around.

The rays of light shine into the still dim grounds, creating a truly fantastical scene and giving you the quiet grounds all to yourself.

2. "Mitarai Pond" where the Goddess of Mt. Hakusan appeared

Mitarai Pond is a legendary site where it is said that long ago, a monk visited this place to pray, when a goddess appeared in the pond, and after receiving a message from the goddess, he founded Mt. Hakusan.

Come and relax in front of this 1,300-year-old spring.

3. The giant cedar tree of Wakamiya Shrine, about 450 years old

Heisenji Hakusan Shrine has a history of 1,300 years, but the most eye-catching feature is the large cedar tree of Wakamiya Shrine .

After losing the battle against the Ikko Ikki rebels, the entire mountain was burned down, but this is said to be one of the remaining cedar trees.

The trunk is 5m in circumference, and the branches stretching out in all directions give it a powerful feel.
You can get close enough to touch them, so be sure to check it out.

4. The largest cobblestone street in the Middle Ages

Excavations that began in 1989 uncovered the remains of a stone-paved road and a temple.
Excavations have revealed that the area is neatly divided into sections, and the remains of the largest medieval religious city in Japan have been confirmed, giving an idea of ​​the city's prosperity at the time.

The stone-paved road stretches for over one kilometer, and was built by monks at the time using river stones collected from the Kuzuryu River and carried by hand.

Come see 1300 years of history and the spectacular moss scenery

Fukui's Moss Palace, Heisenji Hakusan Shrine, is a fascinating spot where history and nature blend together.
Enjoy the beautiful moss and historical remains as you soak up the mysterious atmosphere.
Be sure to visit this place where you can feel the power of nature.

Written by

Katsuyama City is located in the northeastern part of Fukui Prefecture. The city is located on a river terrace formed along the course of the Kuzuryu River, and is a rural city rich in water and greenery, with commerce and industry based on the local textile industry since the Meiji period, and agriculture and forestry having been thriving since ancient times. Our company is a DMO (tourism region development organization) that works with local communities to develop tourist areas. Katsuyama City is a treasure trove of attractive tourist content, including the Dinosaur Museum and Heisenji Temple! We provide detailed services to customers visiting Katsuyama , such as guided tours that allow many people to experience Katsuyama , the Geo Terminal in the parking lot of the Dinosaur Museum, and the operation of the "Dinosaur Valley Katsuyama" Roadside Station , which opened in June 2020. We are also actively challenging ourselves to create new businesses centered around tourism, aiming to revitalize the town of Katsuyama.

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