An ancient temple in an honorable temple community that has continued since the Edo Era
Kitayama, which is in the northeast section of central Morioka, is an honorable community of temples which has about 20 temples in the vicinity. Ho’on-ji is the most famous temple among them which was established in 1362 and then moved to its present location in 1601. It is a Zen temple of the Soto sect whose long history has been passed down to the present. There are plenty of historic landmarks in its solemnly rising main temple gate, the temple bell within the grounds, the octagonal Lotus Pagoda and the highlight of the arhat hall, and inside that last place, 499 quietly dignified arhats or Buddhist statues are enshrined. The temple is also famous for a large meditation hall behind the main hall, and it is said that the famous modern poet and children’s storywriter, Kenji Miyazawa, had practiced there. Also, another poet and tanka poet, Takuboku Ishikawa, had loved the neighborhood when he was young and enjoyed walks with his friends in the area.
The 500 Buddhist statues that were carried all the way from Kyoto
Inside the arhat hall, the surviving 499 Buddhist arhats are enshrined. In Buddhism, arhats refer to Buddhist disciples and saints who have achieved the highest level possible as practitioners, and these statues are placed for memorial services. They were created over 4 years from 1731 by 9 Buddhist monks in Kyoto before they were transported over a long way to their current resting place. There are interesting anecdotes of the boxes used to transport them being used as pedestals. 499 of the 500 wooden statues have survived, and they have been clearly seen over the ages as very precious arhat statues. Among these 499, statues of Marco Polo and Kublai Khan are included, and it is said that with their various expressions, no two arhats are alike.