Hiraizumi: Takkoku no Iwaya

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

I managed to visit three sites in Hiraizumi in only one day: Takkoku no Iwaya, Chusonji and Motsuji Temples.
There was a bit of rushing involved, but it’s definitely doable! Not to forget that I started my day in Morioka to visit the castle ruins there!

Visited: May 7th 2012

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

Access to Takkoku no Iwaya:

Takkoku no Iwaya (達谷窟) can be accessed by bus from either JR Hiraizumi Station (10 mins) or Motsuji Temple (8 mins). Take the “Hiraizumi – Takkoku Line” (平泉・達谷線). A one-way trip will cost about 390 yen. There’s a bus roughly every 20-30 minutes from around 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. After that time there are almost no buses anymore.
I highly recommend getting a bus timetable in English at the Tourist Information Center of JR Hiraizumi Station!

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall (達谷窟毘沙門堂) was established in 801 by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro. He built the hall to thank the god of war, Bishamon, after defeating his enemy Akuro Takamaro.

The hall is built in the style of Kyoto‘s Kiyomizudera.
108 statues were set up in the hall. It was a place where people could pray for peace.

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

In 1490 the hall burnt down, but was immediately rebuilt. After that there were several other fires and eventually only the main figure of Buddha and 20 other statues could be saved.

The current Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall was rebuilt in 1961.

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

There’s a Buddha statue deep inside the Bishamon Hall. It is said that Jigaku Daishi carved it in the Heian era.
It is not open to the public and enclosed in a cabinet that was a present from the Date family.
In certain intervals it’s accessible for the public, a very rare occasion!

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

Bishamon, the god of war:

Bishamon (毘沙門) is one of the Japanese Seven Gods of Fortune and the guardian of the people who were born in the year of the tiger.
You can recognize him as the one holding a small pagoda in one hand and a spear in the other. He fights demons and invites happiness.

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

On the huge rock behind the Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall you’ll find a Buddha carving: Ganmen Daibutsu.

A legend says that it was carved by Minamoto no Yoshiie by firing arrows at the sandstone cliff.

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

The Buddha is one of the five large Buddhas in Japan. It’s 16.5m high and used to be a full figure of a sitting Buddha in heaven.

An earthquake in 1896 destroyed the lower part of the stone carving.

Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon Hall

At the Takkoku no Iwaya temple grounds you can also pray and write your wishes on a wooden wishing plaque called “ema“.

Takkoku no Iwaya

The Bishamon Hall is the main attraction of Takkoku no Iwaya, but there are also some other halls such as the Benten Hall, Fudo Hall and Kondo (Golden Hall).

Takkoku no Iwaya Benten Hall and Gama no Ike

The pond surrounding the Benten Hall is called Gama no Ike (Toad Pond).

Takkoku no Iwaya

I think I found Mt. Fuji on one of the stone lanterns!

Takkoku no Iwaya Takkoku no Iwaya

Before leaving I enjoyed the nature that surrounds the temple grounds.

Tourist Information:
Opening Hours:
8:00-17:00 (April 1 – Nov 23); 8:00-16:30 (Nov 24 – Mar 31)
Entrance fee:
300 yen // 100 yen (children up to HS)
Time required:
20-30 mins
Kitazawa-16 Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-chō, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate-ken 029-4102 // TEL: +(81)0191-46-4931
From JR Hiraizumi Sta. either take a bus on the “Hiraizumi – Takkoku Line” (平泉・達谷線). The trip takes about 10 mins and costs 390 yen. However, buses don’t run regularly in winter (early Nov – mid April. By bicycle it will only take you about 30 mins.
Please note: Prices as well as opening hours / holidays are subject to change. Please make sure to follow the provided link to the official website to check out the latest updates.


  • A great series that highlights some of the cool places to visit in the Tohoku region. I truly hope more and more tourists to Japan visit this beautiful area in the future. Now, any plans for your Golden Week vacation this year?

    • I hope so, too!
      Good question. I’m thinking of giving Mt. Fuji another chance and might visit Shizuoka and / or Yamanashi again in early April.
      As for Golden Week I’m not sure yet. I’m tempted to go to Tohoku yet again, maybe this time starting in Sapporo (Hokkaido) and then working my way down. I’d love to re-visit Hiraizumi!

    • To be honest, after visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto for the first time with all its red gates, I couldn’t stand seeing shrine gates for quite some time! *g*
      Nowadays I’m a big fan of them. I even visited the biggest shrine gate in Japan last year! (And of course, I’ll blog about that in the future.)

  • Beautiful photos of a beautiful place. I haven’t had a chance to visit Japan for real. I was at Narita for 1 day… but, that’s nothing. I am looking forward to my time in the country with so much history, culture, and traditions. Can’t wait!
    I’m new to your blog. Just started exploring it… Good job!

    • I hope you’ll get a chance in the future!
      Let me know if you need any tips as for where to go in Japan! :D

      Thanks! I subscribed to your blog as I love to read about other people’s travel experience!

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