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Daikouzen-ji Temple

Found on the border of Fukuoka and Saga Prefecture, Daikouzen-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple that comes alive in autumn.

By Elizabeth Sok

Sitting on the border of Fukuoka and Saga Prefectures, Daikouzen-ji Temple has a history reaching back over 1300 years. Take a trip to this temple to immerse yourself in a key Buddhist site and the natural bounty it has to offer.

History of Daikouzen-ji Temple


Photo by: PIXTA/ むら智 A temple with a history tracing back to over 1,300 years.

Although Daikozen-ji Temple as we know it today was built in 847, its roots stretch back more than a century earlier when it was founded by a Buddhist monk named Gyoki. The temple and the surrounding complex stood until the 830s when many of the structures were destroyed by a fire. In 847, famed Buddhist monk Ennin rebuilt the temple and renamed it Daikouzenji in honor of the Chinese temple where he had recently been studying. Over subsequent centuries, the temple was caught in a cycle of destruction and rebirth as a result of warfare until its last restoration in the 17th century. Since then, the temple has remained largely intact.

The Highlights

Under the thatched roof of the central hall, you’ll find an 11-faced statue of Avalokitasvara, a Buddhist goddess of mercy, believed to have been carved by the temple’s original founder. As a hidden Buddha, this statue can only be seen once every 12 years with the next viewing taking place in 2026. Protecting Avalokitasvara are Tomenten and Hiromokuten, two 900-year-old statues standing about 150 cm tall. While their dyes have worn over the centuries, their appearances still radiate power and authority.

Seasonal Delights


Photo by: PIXTA/ うっちー Seasonal blooms await.

One of the main draws to Daikouzen-ji is Chigirien, a botanical garden nestled within a forest and mountainside that measures roughly 75,000 square meters. Each season of this garden treats visitors to a different array of stunning plants and flowers. From the middle of April to the beginning of May, the temple truly earns its nickname, the Azalea Temple, as over 50,000 azaleas come into bloom.

This sea of pinks, reds and whites complements the fresh green foliage emerging from the chilly winter months. Stop by in late May and enjoy the hydrangeas that take over the garden and make some time for the cedars, maples and cypress trees that cover the garden in a colorful canopy during the autumn months. While snow doesn’t stay on the ground long in Kyushu cities, it certainly stays here as the temple complex and garden are sprinkled white in winter.

Things To Know


Hours: Open every day from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Admission: During peak seasons, adult tickets are ¥600 and junior high and elementary school students are ¥300. In the off-season, adult tickets are ¥300 and junior high and elementary school students are ¥100

How To Get There


By train

Take a rapid train from JR Hakata station to JR Kiyama station on the Kagoshima Main Line for 23 minutes. From the station, you can take a taxi for seven minutes to the temple.

By bus

During the azalea and autumn leaves viewing seasons, a shuttle bus service runs from JR Kiyama station.

By car

Daikouzenji is about 15 minutes from the Chikushino and Tosu ICs on the Kyushu Expressway.  

Where To Stay

Plaza Hotel Tosu
  • 615-7 Hondosumachi, Tosu-shi, Saga, 841-0026 Japan
  • ¥6,000 - ¥12,000
  • 4.2/5 (2,188 reviews)
  • 6.4 km
Green Rich Hotel Tosu Ekimae
  • 726 Kyomachi, Tosu-shi, Saga, 841-0034 Japan
  • ¥6,710 - ¥31,240
  • 3.79/5 (935 reviews)
  • 6.6 km
Sun Hotel Tosu
  • 781-1 Kyomachi, Tosu-shi, Saga, 841-0034 Japan
  • ¥5,500 - ¥28,000
  • 4.23/5 (2,284 reviews)
  • 6.6 km
Hotel Bientos
  • 789-1 Sakai Nishimachi, Tosu-shi, Saga, 841-0042 Japan
  • ¥5,400 - ¥80,000
  • 4.02/5 (948 reviews)
  • 7.3 km
AO Dazaifu
  • 2-4-6 Futsukaichikita, Chikushino-shi, Fukuoka, 818-0056 Japan
  • ¥12,000 - ¥40,000
  • 4.67/5 (12 reviews)
  • 8.4 km

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