Sendai is considered to be a compact city having both a modern mini metropolis and nearby mountains and considered an easygoing place to live as it is neither too big nor too small. There are plenty of shops that are easily accessible downtown, as well as the beautiful mountains that can be accessed by car.
On top of that, if you venture out on a weekend drive into the mountains you may also discover the hidden gem of the Buddhist temple, Saihoji Temple.
The story behind the temple started about 800 years ago when the Genpei War occurred between Genji and Heike. Before the war started, China entrusted Taira no Shigemori – who was considered the favorite son of the Taira clan – a holy painting known as Amida-Nyorai. He kept this painting up until his death where it was then passed on to Taira no Sadayoshi, the governor of the Higo and Chikugo provinces in Kyushu, who was also a member of his tribe.
Although Taira was defeated by Genji in a battle in 1108 AD, Sadayoshi continued to stay in the same place along with the painting. He also renamed himself, Johgi, and built himself a small temple, known today as Johgi Nyorai, that houses the holy painting. It is believed to be a temple that provides good fortune and performs miraculous wishes for many people.
If you take the bus from Sendai Station, it will take you an hour before reaching the main village where the temple is located. You will find yourself along several streets selling foods, souvenirs, and so on. There are also some great restaurants and shops to keep an eye out for too.
Once you’ve made your way through the streets, you’ll reach the main gate of the complex – which isn’t the same as the temple’s main gate. You’ll have to pass through a courtyard first which is the mausoleum area for Tara no Sadayoshi. Walking out from there, you’ll come across a park which you can also explore for more adventure. Upon exiting the park (the same way you entered), you will immediately see the main hall of the temple on the right.
So, why don’t you go and discover this hidden gem during your travels to Japan? If you’re in the Sendai area, it’s definitely worth it as it is such a historical and meaningful part of history. Enjoy having your very own spiritual journey as you venture out into the Sendai mountains!