Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Yamaguchi Kannon: The Best Scenic Temple in Tokorozawa City

Konjō-in Hōkō-ji (金乗院 放光寺) at the top of a hill is a temple erected by the Kōbō Daishi (弘法大師) in Tokorozawa with gorgeous scenery and buildings. We reckon it is the best temple in the area. Not only does the temple have a scenic precinct, but you will also find Buddhist elements of various styles. Furthermore, with many dragon statues and carvings, the temple is like the home to dragons!

About Yamaguchi Kannon

As its main image is a Thousand-Armed Kannon (千手観音) and the temple is in the Yamaguchi area, it is nicknamed Yamaguchi Kannon (山口観音). While the main Kannon statue is only revealed to the public once every 33 years, another Thousand-Armed Kannon is enshrined on the altar. So, when you pray at Konjō-in, you won’t be speaking to a closed pair of doors.

Kōbō Daishi is the monk who founded Kongōbu-ji Temple in Mt. Kōya, the Mother of Japanese Buddhism.

What to See and Do at Yamaguchi Kannon

Before leaving the main worship hall, remember to spin the 108 small bells attached to the outer wall. If you pray while spinning all the bells, your 108 earthly desires will be eliminated, and your wish will come true! When you get to the back of the worship hall, you will be overwhelmed by the number of Jizō Bodhisattva statues there.

One unique thing about Yamaguchi Kannon is not all buildings and Buddha statues are in the Japanese style. Thanks to the previous chief priest’s high English proficiency, communication between Konjō-in and temples overseas was frequent.

The five-story pagoda, for example, is in the Chinese style. The previous head priest constructed it in 2009 after he was impressed by the pagoda he saw in China.

The architecture around the pagoda is mainly Chinese style, too.

Ⓒ photo-ac.com

Of course, there are things that demonstrate Konjō-in’s 1,200 years of history.

There are 33 stone Buddha statues made in the Edo period inside the Butsukuni Cave (仏国窟). Each of them represents a famous Kannon temple in the Kansai region. The cave was completed in 2009 to shelter the statues scattered in the forest at the back of the temple.

In addition, there is a horse statue where you can pray for success. The ritual came from the fact that Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞), a famous samurai lord in the 14th century, prayed here in 1333 for his victory before he fought a war. The statue is a replica of his horse. This is probably why it looks a bit aggressive. Whether you want to pray to the horse, check the statue out. You will feel it is looking at you no matter where you stand! Moreover, the wooden Ema plaques here are in carrot shape because carrot is horses’ favorite snack!

On the main worship hall’s right, the staircase leading to the five-story pagoda and the Butsukuni Cave is called the Dragon Staircase (龍の階段). The handrails on the two sides are in the shape of a dragon!

Yamaguchi Kannon’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Yamaguchi Kannon is open from 9 am to 4 pm.
  • The temple is a 7-minute walk from Seibu’s Seibu Kyūjōmae Station (西武球場前駅).

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