Gyokusenji temple was first created in the Muromachi period (~1450) and later improved in the Edo period (~1640) by Tenyu Betto, said to be the forefather of Mt. Haguro’s revival.
The pond-centered garden is said to be western in style, and the aged rock arrangements represent the stillness and harshness similar to that experienced by a priest of the Zen sect undergoing apprenticeship. The garden instills those who gaze upon it with a mysterious peace of mind.
In 1987, it was designated a national scenic site for its importance in understanding transitions in the culture of gardens in the Tohoku region, and in recognition of its outstanding gardenscape that makes creative use of the placement of rocks on the islet, among standing stones, and in the middle of the pond.
Gyokusenji Temple is enveloped in flowers throughout the four seasons and has come to be called the temple of flowers. The temple grounds are blooming with cherry blossoms in spring, azaleas, Japanese primrose, and iris in early summer, and Japanese clover and Japanese anemone in fall. Text and photography by Eric of 500px