Originally built as Keiunji in 704 A.D. The temple was moved to the present place in 822. The temple is best known for its Iris Garden with rabbit-ear irises which bloom around late April to late May. The temple precinct is filled with monuments related to Ariwara-no-Narihira legendary tanka poet around early 9th century and notable visitors who appreciated Narihira. Current Iris garden was created in 1812 when the temple buildings were rebuilt. Iris garden also has a museum open during Kakitsubata festival during late April to late May.
Yatsuhashi is an scenic site located near the border between Chiryu and Toyota. It has been popular since ancient times for the beautiful iris laevisgata(rubbit-ear iris) flowers(kakitsubata in Japanese) blooming in the marshland. Since the poem in The Tale of Ise, the collections of Ariwara-no-Narihira poems with stories attached published more than 1,000 years ago, Mikawa Yatsuhashi became something like pilgrimmage site for learned people. The area is blessed with sites related to the legendary early 9th century tanka poet. Korin Ogata painted National Treasure masterpiece, Irises Screen, around the turn of 18th century with the theme of rabbit-ear irises blooming there. Today, Kakitsubata no longer blooms in natural habitat ironically because of river betterment works preventing floods. But you can still enjoy the view of Kakitsubata flowers at the garden of Muryojuji temple during late April to late May.
Note: The original Korin's Irises Screen is currently at Nezu Museum in Minato-ku, Tokyo. Replica of the Iris Screen can be seen during Iris Festival during late April to late May. Nezu Museum also is slated to display the original from April 20 to May 19 in 2013.
How to get there?
First start from Muryojuji temple with comprehensive guide board in English.
Here is the way to Muryojuji temple.
From Nagoya, Centrair Nagoya airport, Kyoto or Osaka.
A: From Centrair Airport: Take Meitetsu line and change trains at Kanayama. From Kanayama take the trains bound for Toyohashi or Toyokawa Inari all the trains bound for these places stop at Chiryu. From Chiryu change trains to Meitetsu Mikawa Line bound for SANAGE and get off at Mikawa Yatsuhashi station. Walk southward along the broad road about five minutes and you will get to the Hiyoshi Shrine. Kakitsubata Garden is a short walk from there.
B: From Nagoya.
Take Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line bound for Toyohashi and change trains at Chiryu. Take Meitetsu Mikawa Line bound for Sanage as mentioned above.
C: From Hamamatsu, Tokyo and Eastern part of Japan. From Tokyo take Kodama Express bound for Shin-Osaka and change trains at Toyohashi and take Meitetsu Nagoya Main Line bound either for Unuma, Shin-Gifu. All Meitetsu trains departing from Toyohashi stop at Chiryu and take Meitetsu Mikawa line to Mikawa Yatsuhashi as mentioned above.
Chiryu-juku is the thirty-ninth post station of Old Tokaido Road located between Okazaki(#38) and Narumi(#40) about 330 kilometers(210 miles) from Nihonbashi, Edo(Tokyo). The name Chiryu derived from the carps swimming in the pond of Chiryu Shrine over which the old bridge is crossed: Chi(Pond),Ri(Carp), Fu(Carassius).
The post station was also noted for the horse market held in April and May, which continued until 1940s. Chiryu is also noted for Yatsuhashi area including Muryojuji temple the garden of which is very popular scenic sites during May when Iris laevigata flowers bloom. Iris laevigata flowers blooming around Yatsuhashi area also became the theme of Korin Ogata's well-known masterpiece work. It is said to be the place for the sad love story between Ariwara-no-Narihira and Princess Kakitsubata as described in the poem of The Tale of Ise. Iris Laevigata of Yatsuhashi is so popular it is even used as the theme of wrapping paper of the sweet, YATSUHASHI, which happens to have the same name sold in Kyoto! One of the confectionary makers who produce Yatsuhashi sells special version of Yatsuhashi during Kakitsubata Festival during late Arril though late May. Yatsuhashi is also introduced as the Japanese garden feature of arranging wooden bridges in the pond area in a zig-zag manner.
Along the Old Tokaido, there are nice rows of pines at the place horse market used to be held and a pair of Ichirizuka mound at Raikoji.
5 Kobayashi Yamamachi, Chiryu, Aichi Prefecture, 472-0006, Japan
Good for: Couples
I've stayed here 3 times. It's an elegant, well maintained hotel with nice Japanese decor. The rooms...more
2-45 Shiretomi, Chiryu, Aichi Prefecture, 472-0047, Japan
Good for: Couples
1-9 Ikehata, Chiryu, Aichi Prefecture, 472-0025, Japan
Mebae is located in a small upstairs room down a narrow alley just across from the Meitetsu station in Chiryu Japan. I was last there in April 2006. The staff is excellent! It's basically a karaoke bar, but there's much more than just music there - of course there's plenty of that though. Great drinks, snacks, and all the conversation (Japanese or English) that you could possibly want. I'm sure that Mama-san, Daisy, and Junko would appreciate your visit.
Dress Code: I'm not sure there's an actual dress code, but it is a classy place...so use your best judgement!
When you are visiting Chiryu you may not find a place to dine. Cairn Izuhara is located at the convenent place along the Old Tokaido road. It is a nice place to buy some buns and some sweets. I bought a burger type bun and one with eggs and hams inserted. It cost about 310 yen combined. Not bad for a lunch.
Chiryu Old Castle was originally built as the residence for Nagami clan who ruled the Chiryu Shrine area about 800 years ago. During Warring States(Sengoku) days after Imagawa Clan was defeated at the battle of Okehazama in 1560 the castle fell to Oda Clan who defeated Imagawa Clan. During late 16th century the palace was built by Mizuno clan who then ruled Kariya castle. During 17th century the palace was refurbished so that Shoguns of Tokugawa government can stay on the way to Kyoto to greet the Emperor. The palace was destroyed by the earthquake of 1699. During Meiji Period Yojokan was built as the Emperor's restplace in 1885.(Currently moved to the grounds of Chiryu Shrine). Today the castle ruins is used as a children's playground.
There are some nice Buddhist temples around Chiryu Shrine, Chiryu Bishamonji Temple is very small temple but it is worshiped by local people. Bishamonten is Japanese name for Four Heavenly Kings or Vaisravana. I guess this temple worship Vaisravana. Also this temple seems to adhere to Kukai, Esoteric Buddhsit priest during early 9th Century better known as Kobo-Daishi. What I find amusing is the small dolls of Kobo-san wrapped with clothes with various wishes inscribed.