Teramachi 寺町, or A Pilgrim’s Tour of Nagasaki’s Temple Quarter

The entrance to Shofuku-ji 聖福寺, built in 1677.

The entrance to Shofuku-ji 聖福寺, built in 1677.

Quite unbeknownst to most visitors, Nagasaki is a historic centre of pilgrimage for Japanese Buddhism and Zen Buddhism.  The city centre is quite literally bursting with temples of all kinds, particularly around the foot of the various hills in the city.

The greatest concentration of temples – some 15 of them in the same area – is in Teramachi, which literally means Temple Street.  The two oldest and most famous temples in the city – Kofuku-ji 興福寺 and Sofuku-ji 崇福寺, both of which appeared in the post just before this one – are located on this street, alongside a dozen other temples.

But to get the full sense of just how overwhelming Nagasaki’s temple quarter is, one must begin the tour about a kilometer away at the ancient Honrenji 本蓮寺, located just adjacent to the Memorial to Japan’s 26 Catholic Martyrs.  Here sit four of the city’s most fascinating temples – Honren-ji, Fukusai-ji 福済寺, Shofuku-ji 聖福寺 and the Suwa Shrine 諏訪神社 (unfortunately I only managed to visit the third of the four). From the Suwa Shrine, cross over the river to check out another smaller shrine – the Isemiya Shrine 伊勢宮神社, before heading south to Teramachi proper, with its 15 temples.

Many of the temples were first established in the 1600s, but were then severely damaged by the atomic bomb in 1945, and rebuilt thereafter.  So there is a variety of architectural styles here, some temples being built in an entirely contemporary style, and others reconstructed in a more traditional form.

The entire journey will take you a full day, if you walk fast and are efficient with visiting each of these temples.  Ideally, one would take this in slowly, over the course of three days, just like pilgrims of yore must have done in Old Nagasaki.

Enjoy the gilded splendour of this Pilgrim’s tour of the temples of Nagasaki.

Inner doorway in the Shofuku-ji.

Inner doorway in the Shofuku-ji.

The Shofuku-ji temple proper.

The Shofuku-ji temple proper.

The Isemiya Shrine 伊勢宮神社

The Isemiya Shrine 伊勢宮神社

The Shrine proper.

The Shrine proper.

Wayside Kannon.

Wayside Kannon.

Kogen-ji 光源寺

Kogen-ji 光源寺

A view down Teramachi.

A view down Teramachi.

Zenrin-ji 禅林寺 is built in a contemporary style, having been destroyed by the atomic bomb.

Zenrin-ji 禅林寺 is built in a contemporary style, having been destroyed by the atomic bomb.

Jinsou-ji 深崇寺 was established originally in 1615.

Jinsou-ji 深崇寺 was established originally in 1615.

The grounds of Jinsou-ji.

The grounds of Jinsou-ji.

Sanpou-ji 三宝寺

Sanpou-ji 三宝寺

The main temple, Sanpou-ji.

The main temple, Sanpou-ji.

Joan-ji 淨安寺

Joan-ji 淨安寺

Stairs up to Joan-ji temple.

Stairs up to Joan-ji temple.

Kofuku-ji 興福寺

Kofuku-ji 興福寺

Enmei-ji 延命寺

Enmei-ji 延命寺

The temple of Enmei-ji.

The temple of Enmei-ji.

Chosho-ji 長照寺 entrance.  The temple was established in 1631.

Chosho-ji 長照寺 entrance. The temple was established in 1631.

The grounds of Chosho-ji

The grounds of Chosho-ji

Kotai-ji 皓台寺 was buit in 1663 and is - hands down- the most beautiful, fairytale-like temple on Teramachi.  The grounds were stunningly landscaped and the entire temple transported one back to the days of shogunate.

Kotai-ji 皓台寺 was buit in 1663 and is – hands down- the most beautiful, fairytale-like temple on Teramachi. The grounds were stunningly landscaped and the entire temple transported one back to the days of shogunate.

The side temple of Kotai-ji, and an elderly pilgrim.

The side temple of Kotai-ji, and an elderly pilgrim.

Daion-ji 大音寺 was founded in 1614 and has a spectacular entranceway.

Daion-ji 大音寺 was founded in 1614 and has a spectacular entranceway.

Inside Daion-ji, there was a beautiful pure white contemporary temple.

Inside Daion-ji, there was a beautiful pure white contemporary temple.

Daiko-ji 大光寺 had the most dramatic entranceway.

Daiko-ji 大光寺 had the most dramatic entranceway.

The stairway leading up to Daiko-ji.

The stairway leading up to Daiko-ji.

The Daiko-ji grounds.

The Daiko-ji grounds.

Sofuku-ji 崇福寺

Sofuku-ji 崇福寺

The stunning Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社

The stunning Yasaka Shrine 八坂神社

The shrine proper.

The shrine proper.

Couple leaving the Yasaka Shrine.

Couple leaving the Yasaka Shrine.

Kiyomizudera 清水寺 was built in 1623.

Kiyomizudera 清水寺 was built in 1623.

The Kiyomizudera grounds.

The Kiyomizudera grounds.

Shokaku-ji 正覺寺

Shokaku-ji 正覺寺

The Shokaku-ji proper.

The Shokaku-ji proper.

The itinerary of the Pilgrim's Tour - extending from the Memorial to Japan's 26 Catholic Martyrs, to Shokaku-ji.  Time needed: at least one full day, if not two.

The itinerary of the Pilgrim’s Tour – extending from the Memorial to Japan’s 26 Catholic Martyrs, to Shokaku-ji. Time needed: at least one full day, if not two.

 

About Kennie Ting

I am a wandering cityophile and pattern-finder who is pathologically incapable of staying in one place for any long period of time. When I do, I see the place from different perspectives, obsessive-compulsively.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Art & Architecture, Cities & Regions, Japan, Landmarks & History, Photography, Travel & Mobility and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s