Visiting the Hidden Buddhas and Treasures of the Utatsuyama Temple Area of Kanazawa
The Utatsuyama Temple Area, which spans the Higashi Chaya District and the Utatsuyama Mountain Range, is designated as Groups of Traditional Buildings by the Japanese government. Learn about the temples full of appeal while enjoying the beautiful scenery from Mt. Utatsu.
First, start from Enchoji, a temple at the entrance to the Higashi Chaya District! Look for the large ginkgo tree by the gate.
In Gorindo, the building just to the left as you enter the gate, there is an octagonal object called an Issai Kyozo. It is a revolving bookcase within which most of the complete Buddhist scriptures are said to be kept. Worshipers can turn the bookcase once to be awarded the same benefit as reading all the scriptures.
It is heavier than it looks and not easy to turn, but definitely give it a try.
Next, walk through Higashi Chaya District and up a hill and stone steps to Hosenji. The highlight of this temple is the Marici statue, which is the temple's principal object of worship. Marici, the deity of war, was beloved by samurai and ninja, and was worshipped as the patron deity of Maeda Toshiie, who established the powerful Kaga domain and was the father to Hosenji's founder, Maeda Toshitsune.
Hosenji is also famous as a spot with a fabulous view from which you can see the entire city of Kanazawa. If the weather is good, you can see the Sea of Japan, major tourist spots such as Kanazawa Castle and Kenrokuen, and the Higashi Chaya District.
Next, to Renjoji, which is just about in the middle of the Utatsuyama Temple Area. It is an ancient temple established in 1582. The highlight here is the standing statue of Gautama Buddha. It is a large wooden Buddha that is 4.85m high and is considered to be one of Kanazawa's three great Buddha statues.
The Sanmon gate pictured is designated as an intangible cultural property by the city of Kanazawa. In addition to the regular roof, it has roofs above the right and left bracing struts, and is in the same shape as the Ichinomon gate at Kanazawa Castle's Ishikawamon gate. It is elevated, so you can also see the city of Kanazawa from here.
Next, go to Saiyoji, an ancient temple of the Tendai Sect of Buddhism. The forest in the grounds is designated as a protected forest by the city of Kanazawa, and is beautiful throughout the year with cherry blossoms in the spring, new leaves in the early summer, and colorful foliage in the fall. The main temple building and the belfry are registered as cultural properties by the city of Kanazawa.
The highlight is the scroll painting depicting the Buddha leaving the mountain after years of asceticism. The Buddha's eyes are said to move if you keep looking at it. Advance phone reservations are necessary to see this scroll painting.
The last of the tour of hidden Buddha and treasures is Zenshoji, which has a particularly beautiful Niomon two-storied gate. The gate that is pictured is designated as a cultural property by the city of Kanazawa and is also called Akamon (red gate) because of its red color.
This gate is also distinguished by the many waraji straw sandals that have been offered to pray for health and strong legs. There are many waraji of varying sizes, from small ones to huge ones. It is said that you can become healthy by touching the waraji.
The distance between each temple is five to fifteen minutes on foot. There are some hills and stairs on the way, but take your time and enjoy visiting the temples.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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