The Buddhist Statues at Rinsaiji: Reminders of Mount Haku’s Past

Guide to Japan Culture

Rinsaiji, a temple in the city of Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, at the foot of Mount Haku, is said to have been established in the eighth century by Taichō, the Buddhist monk who first climbed Mount Haku (Hakusan) and made it a site of worship. The temple now houses seven Buddhist statues that were formerly at the summit of the mountain, along with a wooden likeness of Taichō. For many centuries Mount Haku was prominent as a holy site for mountain ascetics and others based on a syncretic blend of Shintō and Buddhism. But in 1868 the government ordered that Shintō be purged of Buddhist elements, and almost all of the Buddhist statues on Mount Haku were destroyed. The seven that escaped this fate and are now safely housed at Rinsaiji serve as a reminder of the age of comfortable coexistence between Shintō and Buddhism.

(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Kanazawa Cable Television.)

Ishikawa temple Buddhism Hokuriku mountain