Photo by Roger Smith
Photo by Miyagi Prefecture
Aliise Eisho Donnere
February 16, 2020
If you must choose just one temple to visit on your trip to Sendai, choose Rinnoji. Here you can admire nature which changes with the seasons, explore the meaning of Zen, and simply relax. The temple is also well-suited for animal lovers and families with children, thanks to the adorable donkeys and koi fish visitors can interact with.
The temple has one of the finest Japanese gardens in the region. There are several paths to explore with many places to pause and contemplate. Each spot has a different view of the exceptional beauty of the garden, constructed in a traditional Zen style. A beautiful pond is situated near the center. Here, you can relax by feeding the carp. They are not afraid of people, so you can watch them from up close. This quintessential Japanese scene is complemented by the temple’s elegant three-story pagoda towering in the background.
Rinnoji has more than five hundred years of history. Although it has been rebuilt several times, its unbroken heritage can be seen in the cemetery, with stones dating back many centuries. On a hill just to the west of Rinnoji, there is a Christian cemetery with ninteenth-century graves of the first foreigners who came to Sendai.
And, finally, your children will be delighted to meet the three donkeys who live in the temple’s outer garden! They like to be petted, but please don’t feed them.
I highly recommend trying the zazen meditation session, too. It can be a challenging for a beginner as it lasts almost two hours, but it is an experience you will never forget! Zazen sessions are offered every Saturday from 18:25 (beginners, please come to the main hall by 18:15).