Kanzanji - Yet Another Japanese Temple Founded By Kobo Daishi A Temple, A Hole, A Kannon, and a View

    The Kanzanji Temple was established on the slopes of Mt. Tateyama by Kobo Daishi (Kukai) in 810AD, and is a branch of the Shuuyouji Temple on Mt. Akihasan. It was one of three places I visited while in Hamamatsu and was probably my favorite, if not a very close second.

    aerial view temple on the bay

    The long narrow path to Kanzanji Temple was pleasant but lacked activity. I can't blame them, though. It was winter so most of the tourist shops were closed. In particular, I was hoping to go inside this "Natsukashi no Pachinko & Game" (Nostalgic Pachinko and Game) place, but perhaps some other time. It will only grow more natsukashiiiiiii the longer I wait.

    nostalgic pachinko game

    "Ah, the olden days of gambling addiction were so much better than the gambling addictions that kids have today"

    It's also nice because the road has water on both sides. On this particular day, the wind was blowing hard creating a nasty chop in the water.

    waves pier white caps

    Standing on this bridge was a great way to get wet, I found out first hand.

    temple bridge

    When you arrive at the temple grounds, it's pretty obvious. Because the road has water on both sides, and because there's only one main road, you'll eventually come upon the temple. No choice there, unless you want to swim. Your surroundings will go from city and buildings to trees and hills quite suddenly. Mt. Tateyama's not a big mountain, but it does stand out when you arrive.

    stairway ascent entrance

    There is a long narrow stairway to walk up that leads to the temple. Standard Asian-temple-gotta-walk-up-a-lotta-stairs-for-some-reason stuff.

    woman goes up temple stairs

    We found a crab at the top of this stairway. Assuming it was a test given to us by Buddha, I picked up the crab and brought it back down to the ocean. Crabs don't belong on mountains… right?

    crab at kanzanji temple

    After that, I made the long climb up the stairs (again) in order to see what the Kanzanji Temple was all about.

    The Kanzanji Temple "Attractions"

    In my mind, there are three attractions worth seeing on the Kanzanji Temple grounds, and those three things don't include looking at the temple buildings (though I'm sure you'll do that no matter what). They are the mountain itself, the hole, and the Kannon statue.

    "The Mountain"

    Despite being more like a "really big hill", Mt. Tateyama is a nice little walk. You won't get particularly tired walking the many trails that criss-cross it, but there are some nice views, interesting trees and rocks, and gorgeous scenery. It shouldn't take more than 15-30 minutes to cover most everything and, in doing so, you'll see the other two must-see items on my list.

    The views were my favorite part, though. The scenery framed by trees painted a very pretty picture.

    hamamatsu japan ferris wheel
    hamamatsu japan bridge
    hamamatsu japan shoreline
    hamamatsu japan rock in forest

    You'll also walk by the temple, too. Take a quick look inside, though you probably won't spend a ton of time here. Unless you're very into the history, it's fairly standard temple fare.

    japan typical temple

    The only thing that took away from the experience were all the spiders. Giant-ass spiders.

    spider on web

    Their webs crossed entire paths, and we spent half our time ducking, waving our hands in front of our heads to make sure we didn't go face first into spiders as big as our noses. When we were able to stand up, free of spiders, to look around, the scenery and the views were nice. There's even a spot from which you can see Mt. Fuji on a clear day. It was not clear enough for us to see it on that day, though.

    "The Hole"

    More commonly known as Ana Daishi (ana = hole, Daishi = the name of the person who founded this temple and discovered this hole), this hole was my favorite part of the Kanzanji Temple complex.

    daishi hole entrance

    Supposedly those with eye ailments ought to go here. That being said, I don't think someone with eye ailments should go in here. It was hard to see and there were plenty of things inside on which to smash your head. Be sure to buy a candle!

    Kanzanji temple candles
    Kanzanji temple candle

    It was nice to squat in this hole, look at the prayers people wrote, and just decompress. It feels like the kind of place you can go into and separate yourself from the rest of the world. It was almost as if nothing else on the outside mattered. And, it was a lot cooler than the sticky-hot-humid outside air, so that was a perk. Eventually someone else came in, so I made like Gollum leaving his hole for The Ring and scurried off to the next Kanzanji Temple attraction.

    Kannon

    The Kannon Statue was next to a small shop that sold food and tea. It was closed when we were there, but that didn't stop me from wishing it was open. At least we had the Kannon statue to enjoy.

    kanzanji temple statue

    Supposedly it was made to remind people of the preciousness of life after a couple killed themselves in Kanzanji.

    kanzanji temple kannon temple statue

    It did a good job, too. All I could do was imagine it coming to life only to pick me up and eat my head off. Life was slightly more precious to me after that.

    I do wish the refreshment stand was open though. It would be nice to sit there, under the shadow of the Kannon statue. The combination of a short hike and the surrounding scenery would make it a very pleasant place to stop and eat something small. I think eating in beautiful places helps you to appreciate the area around you more too, but maybe that's just me. Anyways, I'd suggest visiting here when the shop is open, even though I've never tried any of their food myself.

    The Verdict

    A nice place and certainly one of the main attractions of Hamamatsu, should you ever be in the area. Between unagi meals, make sure you come here for a visit. That being said, I wouldn't necessarily come here if you weren't in Hamamatsu already. It's nice, but not one of those must see "destination" type places. If you do end up visiting, put aside 2-3 hours, especially if you want to include some of the surrounding attractions as well.

    Kanzanji Temple

    Pros

    • Ana-Daishi was strangely entertaining
    • Great views, interesting geological formations... if you're into that sort of thing.
    • Kobo Daishi was a pretty well known dude. Historians make like this location for that.

    Cons

    • A bit out of the way. You have to take a bus from a train station. Get off at "Kanzanji Onsen, Murakushi", and from there it's a 10 minute walk.
    • The temple itself isn't anything particularly special. If you've seen temples in Japan, you've seen something similar to this.

    Overall Rating

    6

    Accessibility Rating

    4

    Fun Rating

    7

    Uniqueness Rating

    6

    Additional Information

    2231 Kanzanjicho, Nishi Ward
    Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture 431-1209
    Japan

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