Nestled in the historic port city of Sakata is a sprawling temple complex with a towering buddha statue that watches over the surrounding area. This temple is called Jichi-in Temple and traces back over 600 years from when the founders of this temple first came to this region to escape war brought on by the rise of the Date Family in 1396 in Iwate Prefecture.
Jinichi-in is located right next to Sakata Station and is easily spotted by the Great Buddha of Sakata that rises 17 meters above the downtown area. This temple is free to enter and actively wishes to welcome international visitors who wish to see its many buddhist statues and prayers halls in its many rooms.
This temple also hosts Zen meditation sessions that are open to the public.
See below for more information.
9:00am to 4:00pm
General Admission: Free
Soto Zen Meditation: 500 yen
Recommended length of visit:
This temple is located within easy walking distance of Sakata Station. It is also located within walking distance of Somaro.
The exterior of Jichi-in Temple
One of the many wooden statues inside the temple.
A monk walking through the halls.
Jinichi-in Temple was originally built along the Mogami River in the early 1400's but was repeatedly damaged by tsunami that barreled down the river. This temple along with many residents moved to what is now Sakata City in 1459.
However, fires were a constant menace to feudal Japan's dry wooden buildings and this temple had to be moved several times until finally settling in its current location in 1797.
Jichi-in temple is dedicated to the teachings of the Soto sect of Zen Buddhism and has many halls and shrines throughout its grounds where various rituals are held each day. This temple is filled with stunningly beautiful wooden and bronze buddha statues including one of the largest bronze buddha statues in Japan.
The Great Buddha of Sakata
Towering over many of the buildings in downtown Sakata is the great buddha of Sakata. This statue stands over 17 meters high and is said to be one of the finest metal statues in Japan.
The buddha of this temple was originally made in 1914 to watch over the souls those who had perished in the Sino-Japanese War and Sakata Earthquake. It also stood as a symbol for world peace.
Unfortunately this statue met its end under tragically ironic circumstances as it was forcibly dismantled and melted down for its metal during WWII and turned into weapons of war that were used in the Pacific Theater.
The first Sakata Buddha in 1914
This had brought deep grief and agony to the monks of this temple and the local community.
However, thanks to the support the many members of this temple and the city of Sakata, the Sakata Buddha was reconstructed in 1992 and has stood watching over the city since to this day.
The Sakata Buddha today
Note that in order to access here you need to cross through a gate. You may enter freely but if you have a large group you are advised to check in with the temple just to let them know you will be entering.
This is also a playground but you may enter even if there are kids in the yard. Please be sure to close the gate though.
The central garden of Gyokusenji Temple
The interior of this temple is comprised of two primary halls. One is where large prayers sessions are held and the other is a long hall where the local residents pray to their family members at the hundreds of small shrines in this room.
In Japan people sometimes have two graves. One in a graveyard and the second in small shrines in temples like Jichi-in. Parts of their ashes or bones are actually kept inside these shrines as well.
It is perfectly ok for you to enter this part of the temple and you may also take pictures here.
Just be sure to stay quite, especially if there are people here making offerings to their family.
The temple also has dozens of large statues of buddha and various other deities.
Many of these religious artifacts are treasures date back hundreds of years ago and it is a very rare opportunity to see them up close.
One of the deity statues in Jichi-in
Jichi-in Temple is very easy to access thanks to its convenient location right next to Sakata Station and the downtown area.
You can generally walk to this temple from most tourists spots in Sakata or take a short ride to it.
Note that this temple also has a kindergarten on its grounds, but you are free to enter even when school is in session.
Here is the physical address of the temple.
The garden at the front of the temple
The monks of Jichi-in Temple welcome visitors to try Soto Zen Meditation in their temple through short introductory or longer meditation sessions.
These lessons are led by Munenori Otaki, the head monk of this temple. Mr. Otaki speaks English and has said that he would be happy to walk visitors through the entire process of the meditation.
The cost for these sessions are 500 yen per person.
The length of the meditation session is flexible to your group but generally is 30 minutes.
Seats are also available for those who have trouble sitting on the ground.
For those wishing to take part in Soto Zen Meditation, please send them a short message in the form below.
Zen meditation in the temple