- June 16th, 2017
[Usu Zenkoji Temple in Date] Cherry Blossoms of Famous Oldest Temple in Hokkaido Can Be Enjoyed
Usu Zenkoji Temple
Usu Zenkoji Temple (有珠善光寺) is a famous historical temple in Date city located in the northwestern direction of Muroran city. The official name is Ousuyama Dojoin Zenkoji (大臼山道場院善光寺), and Ennin (円仁 (慈覚大師 *Great teacher Jikaku)) established the temple in 826. It is said that the temple is the oldest temple in Hokkaido. About 1,000 cherry trees are planted, so it is well-known as a good place to see the cherry blossoms. It has various types of the cherry trees such as Yezo Mountain Cherry Tree (エゾヤマザクラ), Yoshino Cherry Tree (ソメイヨシノ), Oshima Cherry Tree (オオシマザクラ) and Weeping Cherry Trees (シダレザクラ), so cherry-blossom viewing can be enjoyed for a long time. The best time to see the cherry blossoms is about early May. Except the cherry blossoms, the best time to see Hydrangea is from mid Jul to early August, and the best time to see fall foliage is about late October. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. I visted here in May 8, 2017, and unfortunately, the cherry blossoms were already falling.
The Usu Zenkoji Temple is one of The 3 Government Temples in Yezo recognized by Edo shogunate in 1804 together with Tojunin (等澍院) in Samani and Kokutaiji (国泰寺) in Akkeshi. At that time, buildings with thatched roofs were rebuilt, and a main building and a reception building have succeeded to an atmosphere of Edo periodo. Grounds of the temple has been designated as a historical site by the Government. Zenkoji Temple Treasure Museum (善光寺宝物館) is also built at the site, and historically valuable things such as a statue of Goddess of Mercy carved by Enku shonin (円空上人), a famous sculptor of Buddhist images in 1600s, are displayed there. Admission fee is JPY 200. Speaking of the Usu Zenkoji Temple, Waniguchi Monaka Bean‐jam‐filled Wafer (鰐口最中) is famous. It is imitative of the Waniguchi (鰐口) that Mr. Yoshisue Kunaijo Shimokuni (下国宮内尉慶季), Karo (a chief retainer) of Matsumae Domain, sent an offering to the temple in 1638. The Bean‐jam‐filled Wafer sometimes are sold at the temple when a market in front of a gate opens. But it is always sold at Nittoseika Confectionery (日当製菓) or Roadside Station Date Rekishi-no-Mori (道の駅だて歴史の杜).
Usu-Moshiri Site (有珠モシリ遺跡) and John Batchelor Memorial Church (バチラー夫妻記念教会堂) are around the Usu Zenkoji Temple, and Lake Toya (洞爺湖), Mt. Usu (有珠山) and Mt. Showashinzan (昭和新山) are close to here. By the way, a direct bus does not run from Sapporo or New Chitose Airport to the Usu Zenkoji Temple, but an express bus "Kosoku Date Liner-go (高速伊達ライナー号)" runs from the Sapporo to the Date.
Lake Toya (洞爺湖) between Toyako town and Sobetsu town located in the northwestern direction of Muroran city is the 3rd largest caldera lake in Japan after Lake Kussharo and Lake Shikotsu, and was born by large-scale eruptions 110,000 years ago. In Shikotsu-Toya National Park, the perimeter of the lake is about 43 km, and 58 sculptures are located around the lake, and those create scenes in accord with the lake. Geographical features of mountains and the lake have been authorized in the World Geopark. The lake is one of major tourist attractoions in Hokkaido, and a lot of international tourists come. Windsor Hotels Toya Resort & Spa that 34th G8 Summit (Hokkaido Toyako Summit) was held at is famous, too. Around the Lake Toya, there are Toyako Onsen Resort (洞爺湖温泉) that is a sightseeing base, Toya Silo Observation Deck (サイロ展望台), Ukimido Park (浮見堂公園), Toya Onsen (洞爺温泉), Nakatoya Onsen (仲洞爺温泉), Nakatoya Camping Ground (仲洞爺キャンプ場), Green Stay Toyako (グリーンステイ洞爺湖), Takarada Camping Ground (水辺の里財田キャンプ場), Sobetsu-cho Onsen (壮瞥町温泉), Mt. Showa-shinzan (昭和新山) and Mt. Usu (有珠山). Read More
Mt. Usu (有珠山) is an active volcano with 733 m in height between Date city, Toyako town and Sobetsu town in the south side of Lake Toya (洞爺湖), and has been double volcano with Ousu Lava Dome (大有珠), Kousu Lava Dome (小有珠), Mt. Ogari (オガリ山) and Mt. Usushinzan (有珠新山) since 20,000 years ago, and erupted 4 times within 100 years ago, so it is one of very active volcanos in the world, too. In Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Geographical features with the Lake Toya and Mt. Showa-shinzan have been authorized in the World Geopark. It can be said that the Mt. Usu is one of main actors in Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Global Geopark (洞爺湖有珠山ジオパーク). A ropeway is the most popular way to go up the mountain, but visitors can hike it, too. Admission free. A parking lot is charged for JPY 500. But It is free of charge form December to March. Read More
Mt. Showa-shinzan (昭和新山) is a volcanic lava dome with about 400 m in height in Sobetsu town located in the south side of the Lake Toya. The new volcanic lava dome has raised or erupted since 1944. In Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Geographical features with the Lake Toya and Mt. Usu have been authorized in the World Geopark. It can be said that the Mt. Usu is one of main actors in Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano Global Geopark (洞爺湖有珠山ジオパーク). It is nearby the Mt. Usu. Tourist facilities such as Showa-shinzan Bear Ranch (クマ牧場), Showa-shinzan Glass Museum (ガラス館), Masao Mimatsu Memorial Hall (三松正夫記念館) and souvenir shops are built near a ropeway station, and the visitors can rise their tourist mood. Admission free. A parking lot is charged for JPY 500. But It is free of charge form December to March. Read More
Cherry Blossoms of Hokkaido
Cherry blossoms begin to bloom from late April in Hokkaido. The cherry blossoms in the Southern Hokkaido including Hakodate begin to bloom from late April, and in case of late blooming, the cherry blossoms in the Eastern Hokkaido and the Northern Hokkaido seem to bloom in early June. The cherry blossoms in Honshu (the main island of Japan) begin to bloom from mid March, and tourists can enjoy the cherry blossoms until too late season. If everybody forget to see the cherry blossoms in the Honshu, please visit the Hokkaido to savor the cherry blossoms. Read More
Cherry Blossoms of Usu Zenkoji Temple
Surroundings of the Usu Zenkoji Temple has been designated as Usu Zenkoji Nature Park (有珠善光寺自然公園), and some walking paths are built. The various cherry trees and big trees grow along the walking paths, and Big Rocks like art work are placed there and here. Visitors can enjoy a walking through virgin forests like an old garden. It seems that bouldering is popular, too. Except temple's buildings, an artificial structure is only U! Suwan Observation Deck (う！スワン展望台) at the site. A restroom is at the main building.
Ishiwari-zakura Cherry Tree (石割桜) is the most famous cherry tree in the cherry trees of the Usu Zenkoji Temple. Ranshu (鸞洲), a then chief priest, planted it in 1805. I wondered if the cherry tree grew naturally after breaking stones as its name, but it was not such a meaning. * The Ishi means "A stone" in English, and the Wari means "breaking" in English. By the way, the tree with more than 200 years old is very old, so something is wrong unfortunately.
Atmosphere of Cherry Blossoms of Usu Zenkoji Temple in Date Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Admission fee||Free of charge|
|Parking lot||Free parking lot is provided (100 cars)|
|Business hours||Open 24 hours|
|Regular closing day||Open all year round|
|Home page||Home page is here|
|Mapcode||321 364 181*32|
List of Accommodations
Refer to following websites for the accommodations in the Date. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.
A page of Hokkaido Cherry Tree is here
Hokkaido Cherry Tree
By the way, Club Tourism (クラブツーリズム), a Japanese tour travel agency, provides various types of tours such as day trip tours or ordinary tours. In the case of bus tours, tourists do not drive their cars themselves, so they can savor alcohol. Choosen tourist attractions are national parks such as Rishiri and Rebun, Shiretoko, and popular tourist places such as Furano and Biei, and some activities such as hiking and fruit picking are also enjoyed depending on seasons. If you are interested in tour trips, you should visit the club tourism's website for details.
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