Churenji Temple Chûrenji 注連寺
Area: Oami (Yudono)
Distance from the station: 50 minutes (by car)
It is said that Kobo-Daishi (or Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism (the esoteric school of Buddhism specific to Japan), himself built this temple in 825 (a few years after Dainichibo Temple). With Dainichibo Temple, they constitute the pillars of the Shingon Buddhism practice around Mt. Yudono.
This is where you will find Tetsumonkai's mummy, the most famous sokushinbutsu of them all. Tetsumonkai was born in 1789 and died in 1830 at the age of 71. He entered Churenji Temple at the age of 21. Feeling remorse for his past crimes (he murdered two soldiers as an act of self-defense), he chose to serve the people by becoming a Buddhist monk. He led his training further by undertaking the sokushinbutsu training, which he successfully accomplished to the end.
Apart from the mummy, you will find a strange pop-art ceiling with dozens of pop culture icons painted in bright colors, and a 200-year-old Sakura tree: the Shimekakezakura.
The legendary mummy of the monk who cut his genitals to prove his dedication as a disciple.
Pop art ceiling
Portraits of the Beatles, Prince, Mickael Jackson and many more icons of the pop culture, in a room right next to the mummy.
Churenji's Shimekakezakura tree
A 200 years old cherry tree of the variety Cerasus leveilleana.
Go by bus
Dainichibo and Churenji Temples are located in Oami village. To go to Oami village, take the bus from Tsuruoka Station to Asahi Chosha, and make a transfer at Asahi Chosha Mae for the City Van Shuttle Bus bound for Tamugimata. Get off the bus at Oami or Oami-kyoku mae.
Tsuruoka Station鶴岡駅前③のりば ↔ Asahi Chosha 朝日庁舎