Zuiganji Temple, a national treasure, was first established in 828 by legendary priest Jikaku Daishi. Caves for the depositing of funerary ashes were added during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). The temple took its current form in 1609, when it was restored as a family temple by Date Masamune, the “One-Eyed Dragon of Ōshu” and founder of nearby Sendai.
The approach to the temple is lined with the pine trees for which Matsushima is named. The gate to the left is the Onari Genkan — the Emperor’s Gate. Visitors instead pass across the front of the temple and enter via the Kuri, the distinctive temple kitchen to the right.
The temple is filled with many elaborate murals on gilt sliding screens, including the famous Peacock panel painted by family retainer Sakuma Shuri. (Photography is forbidden in the interior of the temple.)
The temple grounds also include the Seiryuden museum, which houses national and prefectural cultural properties such as the armor of Date Masamune and a large Wakizashi sword commissioned by his son.