Hase-dera Temple, Nara

Originally known as Hatsuse, Hasedera temple in Nara Prefecture was a popular, if arduous, pilgrimage for Heian-era ladies, and a stop for other pilgrims on their way to the Grand Shrine at Ise.

Hasedera Temple hondo

Bell-shaped lanterns and an image of Binzuru silhouetted in the morning light outside the hondo.

It has since become the eighth temple on the Saigoku Kannon pilgrimage. Performances of traditional dancing are given in the hondo on special occasions.

Hasedera Temple Veranda View

View from the veranda of Hasedera Temple.

The temple is set on a mountainside, surrounded by forest, and is reached by crossing the Hase River, once lined with pilgrim's lodgings. In The Jeweled Chaplet chapter of The Tale of Genji, Hatsuse is where Genji's servant discovers Yugao's daughter on a pilgrimage.

Hasedera Temple hondo

View of Hasedera Temple's hondo from lower on the hill.

Hasedera Temple priest

A monk stands below Hasedera Temple's main hall.

Hasedera Temple momiji festival

Autumn concert in Hasedera Temple's main hall.

Hasedera Temple monks

Monks on Hasedera Temple's veranda.

Hasedera Temple niomon

Main gate at Hasedera Temple.

Hasedera Temple Honbo

A monk walks towards Hasedera Temple's honbo.

Hasedera Temple pagoda

Pagoda on the hillside.

Hasedera Genji Tree

Forked tree mentioned in the Tale of Genji.

Hase-dera dates from 686 and contains one the most stunning images of Kannon in the whole of Japan. Carved in 1538, the eight-metre high eleven-faced Juichimen Kannon gazes out through the temple's main hall across the valley beyond.

Hasedera Temple Kannon

Hasedera Temple's impressive 8-metre statue of Kannon.

The temple features a large veranda, rising high above the trees below.

Hasedera temple veranda

View across the valley from Hasedera Temple's main hall.

Hasedera temple endless steps

Endless steps lead up to the hondo.