Heisenji Hakusan Shrine
An Ancient Shrine—and Once a Temple—Covered in Moss
Heisenji Hakusan Shrine was originally established in 717, and is best known for its mossy grounds and gardens. Today, Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is beloved as a quiet refuge from the modern world. Along the path to the shrine, moss covers parts of the stone pavement, with tall Japanese cedar trees on both sides. The main hall is likewise surrounded by a carpet of moss.
Mt. Hakusan has long been a center of faith, because of its large size, and because it provides life-giving water and food. This faith includes worship of the mountain itself, as well as local folk practices. For centuries, Heisenji Hakusan Shrine served as not only a Shinto shrine but also a major Buddhist temple. However, in the 1870s, Emperor Meiji (1852–1912) forced Buddhism and Shinto to split apart, to limit their influence. As a result, Heisenji Hakusan Shrine is a rare example of a Shinto shrine with a name ending in ‑ji (lit. “temple”).