A Hidden Treasure in Yamaguchi: Ruriko-ji Temple Where the Samurai Once Tread

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  • There are many different temples in Japan today, but there are, of course, some that are outstanding. One of the greatest temples in Japan is Rurikoji temple. Rurikoji temple is a Buddhist temple located in Yamaguchi city. This national treasure is best known for the great five-story pagoda and it is rightly rated among Japan’s three greatest temples.

    The History of Ruriko-ji Temple

    Rurikoji temple originated when the Samurai Ouchi Yoshihiro of the 16th century built a temple called Koshaku-ji for the purpose of holding memorial services for all of the members of his family. Morimi, the younger brother of Yoshihiro built a five-story pagoda in 1442 in memory of Yoshihiro who was killed in the Oei War in 1399. After the decline of the Ouchi family, Mori Terumoto who ruled the region took Koshaku-ji with him, when he moved to a different place and left behind only the five-story pagoda. In 1690, a certain temple called Rurikoji which was located somewhere else was moved to the area with the pagoda left by Mori Terumoto.

    Kozan Park

    The temple grounds of Rurikoji are also widely known as Kozan Park. The other buildings you can find include the main hall, a bell tower, a temple storehouse, a very attractive museum which is full of historical drawings and models of fifty-plus five-storied great pagodas found across the whole of Japan. The museum presents interesting information about the history of pagodas such as their difference in design, however, the English explanation is limited.

    The temple ground park, which was selected among the best 100 historical Parks in Japan, features a burial site of members of the Mori family that reigned over the region during the Edo period (1603-1867). Uguisubari (or nightingale floor) where an echo is produced when you clap or stomp your feet lead to the grave. The word ‘uguisu’ is the name of the Japanese bush warbler and the name of the flooring was chosen because the echo from the pavement sounds similar.

    The Infamous Tea House

    Also in the Park is the tea house called Chinryutei, a tea house where Saigo Takamori (an important historical figure and often called “the last true samurai”) was active during the Meiji period. Visitors can enter Chinryutei freely to view the tatami mat rooms found on the second floor. You can find some Japanese exhibits about the people who led the Meiji Restoration on the first floor as well.

    Because of the pagoda architectural design and the historical facts it has, it is considered to be among the most excellent buildings of the 15th and 16th centuries. You don’t need to be told to go visit this amazing temple, its fascinating points speak for themselves!

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