Main Hall (before the start of the renovation works)

Zuiganji (ގ) is one of the Tohoku Region's most famous and prominent Zen temples, and is well known for its beautifully gilded and painted sliding doors (fusuma). Zuiganji was originally founded in 828 as a temple of the Tendai sect, and was converted into a Zen temple during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333). After years of decline, Zuiganji was restored to prominence by the feudal lord Date Masamune who rebuilt it as his family temple in 1609.

Zuiganji is a reflection of the natural beauty of Matsushima, and upon entering the temple grounds, the approach to the main hall proceeds along a long, straight path flanked on both sides by cedar trees (some of them were unfortunately damaged by the salt water of the tsunami and had to be cut). An alternate path detours off to the right of the entrance and by a number of caves that were used in the past for meditation, and today contain statues.

Approach to the temple before the felling of some of the trees

The Main Hall of the temple emerges at the end of the wooded path. Until 2016 the hall will be renovated and covered by a scaffoldig structure, while visitors won't be able to enter it. Attached is the Kuri, the Zen kitchen where the meals were prepared in the past. The main hall and kitchen are both designated national treasures.

Across from the Kuri is the Seiryuden, also known as Zuiganji Art Museum. The museum exhibits some of the temple's treasures, including its golden fusuma sliding doors, and artifacts of the Date Clan, such as a life sized wooden stature of Date Masamune clothed in his armor.

During the renovation works and closure of the main hall from September 2009 through March 2016, the Zen kitchen and Otamaya, the mausoleum of Date Masamune's wife, which are normally off limits, are open to the public for a special viewing. The Zuiganji Art Museum remains open as usual, as well.

Kuri, the Zen kitchen
Caves along the approach


Zuiganji is a few steps from the pier of Matsushima, and a 5-10 minute walk from JR Matsushima Kaigan Station.

How to get to and around Matsushima

Hours & Fees


8:00 to 17:00 (closes 30 to 90 minutes earlier in winter)


No closing days


700 yen (includes entrance to the museum)


Minimal (museum)