Ryusenji / Ryusen Temple is the undisputed home of papercut ‘Goshuin’. A ‘Goshuin’ is a stamp or seal that you can receive for a fee at temples and shrines in Japan. What makes Ryusen-ji’s so special is that they are intricately cut from paper, like a stencil. Ryusenji was the very first place in all of Japan to offer these unique, beautiful papercut seal stamps. As always happens with a ‘good idea’, many have copied their idea, but few have emulated their exquisite temple seal stamps.
Ryusen-ji Temple, or Saitama Yayuyoke Kaiun daishi Ryusen-ji, is one of the three great 「日本三大厄除け開運大師」yakuyoke kauin daishi temples in all of Japan. Moreover, its the only one (of the big three) in Kanto / the Greater Tokyo area. Yakuyoke Kaiun Daishi temples are temples that simultaneously ward off misfortune AND welcome great luck. This is because the temple has two “Daishi” enshrined. A Daishi is like a “Saint” or “Great Teacher”. Ryusen-ji enshrines both the ‘Saint’ of yakuyoke, for warding off evil, AND the Saint of Kaiun for bringing in good luck.
The dual ‘power’ makes a significant temple and a truly special, spiritual place of worship in Saitama Prefecture. In addition, the benevolences of the temple make it a popular place for ‘Hatsumode‘ in the Kanto region. People literally come from all over the country to pray at the temple over the New Year period. Especially in recent years, as now you can also pick up a limited edition papercut seal stamp during the New Year period. In fact, their limited papercut seal stamps are popular throughout the year as the temple is widely recognized as being the birthplace of these intricate stencil like temple seals.
Each year there are two summer goshuin. The 2023 versions are pictured above – one has sunflowers, the other wind chimes, etched out of the paper. They went on sale on June 1st and will be available until the end of August, unless they run out. And even though they make thousands of them, they do run out! They also end up on online sales websites! You can only purchase them between 9 am and 4 pm between Wednesdays and Mondays. They don’t sell them on Tuesdays.
Daruma Ema (Prayer Plaques)
Daruma or daruma dolls are a type of wooden doll modeled on Bodhidharma, a legendary Buddhist Monk often called the father of Zen Buddhism. Takasaki in Gunma Prefecture is famous for Daruma, but there are many places you can see Daruma around Japan. There are also plenty of places where you can see daruma emblems emblazoned on prayer plaques, called ema in Japanese. However, prayer plaques that are the color of AND in the shape of Daruma (pictured above) are quite rare.
The temple also has a daruma market each year at New Year’s. The official period of New Year is longer at Ryusenji than most temples, from the 1st to the 9th of the month. It is estimated that approximately half a million people visit the temple for their first prayers of the New Year.
There are three hanachozu near the shrine’s offices. They change the flowers seasonally. They make a nice background for contrasting the goshuin.
There are beautiful red and white lanterns hanging in both the temple’s gates all year round.
Event: Ryusenji Limited Edition Summer Goshuin 龍泉寺の夏限定切り絵御朱印
Date: every day from June 1st to end of August except Tuesdays. That is, they don’t sell them on Tuesdays. Also, there is a possibility they will run out before the end of August.
Time: from 9 am to 4 pm
Cost: a papercut goshuin costs 1300 yen
Venue: Saitama Yakuyoke Kauin Daishi Ryusenji (Ryusen-ji) 埼玉厄除け開運大師-日本三大厄除け開運大師・龍泉寺, 3712 Mikajiri, Kumagaya, Saitama 360-0843. View on Google Maps.
About a 20 minute walk from Aketo Station on the Chichibu line. 40 to 45 minute walk from Kagohara Station. There is parking for about six cars directly in front of the temple’s gates as well as several other parking lots, of which the largest – about a two minute walk away – fits about 200 cars!