Seirinji Temple
Photo: Wakura Onsen Tourism Association

The tables at this Japan temple are so polished they mirror the scenery outside

The temple in the town of Wakura Onsen is lighting up its Gobenden hall, built for Emperor Taisho

Emma Steen
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Emma Steen
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The 1,200-year-old town of Wakura Onsen is one of Ishikawa prefecture’s most popular destinations, but the area is famous for more than just its natural hot springs. Just five minutes from the town’s centre is a temple belonging to the Soto sect of Buddhism called Seirinji, which once hosted Emperor Taisho on his visit to Wakura Onsen in 1909.

Seirinji Temple
Photo: Wakura Onsen Tourism Association

In anticipation of his visit, a new building called the Gobenden was built as a lodge for the emperor and his family. While buildings like this were normally dismantled after the royal family left, Seirinji Temple opted to preserve the carefully constructed building, making the Gobenden one of the few remaining buildings of its kind from the Meiji era (1868-1912).

The temple’s Gobenden is open to visitors, but this winter, the temple is putting on a special after-dark exhibition to highlight the designated cultural property. From January 8 to February 26 2022, the Gobenden’s surrounding garden will be illuminated in multicoloured lights for a rare spectacle.  

Seirinji Temple
Photo: H.Nakano, courtesy of Wakura Onsen Tourism Association

What makes this seasonal exhibition particularly eye-catching is the building’s polished black table that sits in the middle of the main room. When the light from outside floods the room in a certain way, the tabletop acts like a mirror, giving beautiful reflections of the garden.

Seirinji Temple
Photo: Wakura Onsen Tourism Association

The attraction is especially popular for keen photographers and Instagrammers, so if you want to guarantee a slot to visit the Gobenden during the illumination event, you’ll want to make sure to call and reserve a space ahead of time. There will be two viewing sessions every evening: one at 5pm and another one at 6pm. There is an entry fee of ¥1,500, which includes a tea set with accompanying Japanese sweets. 

For more information, visit the temple’s official website, or call 0767 62 1555 (Japanese only) to make a reservation. 

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