Dating back to the 15th century, the five-storied pagoda of Rurikoji Temple in Yamaguchi is truly a wonder to behold. A designated National Treasure considered to be one of Japan’s three great pagodas, it has long been perhaps the most prominent symbol of Yamaguchi Prefecture and its cultural history. Marvel at the sight of the exquisite five-tiered structure and swaying trees that surround it reflected in peaceful waters of the pond it rises above. Come nightfall, the pagoda is illuminated, lending a divine, almost otherworldly ambience to the already enchanting scene.
The temple sits within Kozan Park, a site of stunning natural beauty and historical significance in its own right. Its beautiful Japanese garden boasts abundant trees and flowers, changing its countenance with the coming of each season. Visitors can enjoy cherry blossoms in the spring, verdant greenery in the summer, striking foliage in autumn, and breathtaking snowscapes in the winter. The on-site temple museum is also a must-visit, featuring charming miniature replicas of famous pagodas from throughout Japan.
Before leaving the grounds, pay your respects at the burial grounds of the powerful Mohri Clan, who once ruled the region, and delight in the distinctive uguisu-bari (“warbler stone”) pavement stones that ring out as you walk down the path. Then stop by Chinryutei, a historic tea house once frequented by the samurai Saigo Takamori, one of the fathers of the Meiji Restoration. With so many wonders of nature and history in one place, it’s a can’t-miss destination for anyone with an appreciation for Japan’s cultural heritage.
Hours: The temple grounds are open at all hours. The information center and museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the pagoda is illuminated every night from sundown until 10:00 p.m.
Admission: The temple grounds and park are accessible free of charge. Admission tickets for the museum are 200 yen for adults, 100 yen for junior high and high school students, and 50 yen for elementary school students.
Address: 7-1 Kozancho, Yamaguchi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Airport: Yamaguchi Ube Airport
+81-83-934-6630 (Kozan Park Tourism Center)
From Yamaguchi Ube Airport, take an airport bus to Shin-Yamaguchi Station. From there, transfer buses or take the JR Yamaguchi Line to JR Yamaguchi Station. Rurikoji Temple is about a 30-minute walk from the station. Bus service and rental bicycles are also available.
Hagi Castle Town and Hagi Meirin Gakusha (Historic Schoolhouse)
Ube Biennale Art Walk and Sunrise at Kiwa la Beach
Akiyoshidai and Akiyoshido
Yanai City’s White-Wall Townscape
Tsunoshima Ohashi Bridge (Great Tsunoshima Bridge)
Hofu Tenmangu Shrine, Mohri Garden, Suo Kokubunji Temple, Amidaji Temple