Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Zenmyōshō-in Temple (Sanada-an) and the Sanada Clan

If you are a Japanese history buff or a fan of the famous samurai, Sanada Yukimura, the town you must visit in the Kansai region is Kudoyama. The town where Yukimura and his father spent their late years is the best spot to get a rough understanding of the hardships they endured throughout the 14 years of confinement!

The first attraction from Kudoyama Station with a deep connection to the Sanadas is Zenmyōshō-in (善名称院).

It remains unclear where the family was actually based during their confinement in Kudoyama. However, many people support the hypothesis that the residence where the family spent 14 miserable years used to stand on the temple’s ground. This is why Zenmyōshō-in is also known as Sanada-an (真田庵).

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The History Leading to Zenmyōshō-in’s Erection

Unfortunately, Sanada Masayuki (真田 昌幸), Yukimura’s father, passed away in Kudoyama. Because of their circumstances, neither a funeral nor a proper grave was held or allowed. So Yukimura buried his father under a pine tree in the yard and built a small pagoda (Hōkyōintō, 宝篋印塔) instead. The residence was later burnt down after Yukimura and the Toyotomi Clan lost the Summer Campaign of the Siege of Osaka (大坂夏の陣) in 1615.

126 years later, when a monk named Taian Shōnin (大安上人) traveled to Kudoyama, he founded the Zenmyōshō-in (Sanada-an) and enshrined the Jizō Bodhisattva (地蔵菩薩) after he received a prophecy from Jizō Bodhisattva during his meditation.

Sanada Jinushi Daigongen (真田地主大権現)

Ⓒ Wakayama Tourism Federation

At the temple, it was said that the angry spirit of Masayuki was seen frequently. To alleviate his anger, Taian Shōnin built a shrine for him and enshrined his soul as Daigongen. Appreciating what was done for him, Masayuki vowed to be the area’s guardian god and to protect the precinct eternally.

After Sanada Jinushi Daigongen, a couple more gods were enshrined at Zenmyōshō-in.

Kaminari Fūji Well (雷封じの井)

When roaming around Sanada-an, you might notice a well. While it just looks like an ordinary well, it is where Yukimura sealed thunder in!

The legend goes that the people of Kudoyama suffered terrible losses and damages caused by the frequent thunders. One day, when Yukimura saw thunder striking the well, he immediately sealed it to save the villagers from further suffering.

As unbelievable as it may sound, this is how the well got the name, Kaminari Fūji!

Ⓒ Wakayama Tourism Federation

Sanada Kofun (真田古墳)

Around a 3-minute walk east of Sanada-an, there is a hole in the ground that leads to the path to Osaka Castle.

Ⓒ Wakayama Tourism Federation

If you were wondering how Sanada Yukimura appeared in Osaka Castle suddenly before the Seige of Osaka, it was said that he utilized this hole to head back to Osaka to support his lord, Toyotomi Hideyori (Hideyoshi’s son).

The hole is actually an old burial mound from around the 4th century. It has a long and narrow stone chamber. After an archaeological excavation was completed in 1953, it was named Sanada Kofun (although it is not the grave of one of the Sanadas).

Sanada Himo (真田紐)

Sanada Himo is a type of special flat braid invented by the family during their time at Kudoyama. The strong and durable braids woven by the family were sold in the region by their servants to earn a living, as well as to collect information about the movements of the Tokugawa clan and his lord, Toyotomi Hideyori.

Sanada Resource Center/Museum (真田宝物資料館)

The temple’s storage area was renovated into a small museum exhibiting items related to the family, such as spears, armor, and letters. You will also find the tools that were used to make the strong and durable Sanada Himo.

Artifacts related to Taian Shōnin and the Japanese emperor who stayed there after its completion can also be found in the museum.

Kishū Kudoyama Sanada Festival (紀州九度山 真田まつり)

Sanada-an, where the Sanadas spent the majority of their late-life, is where the samurai parade of the Kishū Kudoyama Sanada Festival concludes each year.

The two-day annual festival usually takes place on the 4th and 5th of May, making it one of the biggest events in Kudoyama! The main event venue is Roadside Station Kaki no Sato Kudoyama (道の駅 柿の郷くどやま), where various performances are taken place on stage. You will also find many of the local shops having temporary stalls set up there.

Ⓒ Wakayama Tourism Federation

In the afternoon on the second day of the festival, a parade led by cosplayers of Sanada Masayuki and Yukimura with their armed soldiers following from behind holding various weapons will also take place.

Sanada-an’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

Discover more Attractions in Kudoyama that Relates to Kōyasan and the Famous Samurai, Sanada Yukimura

Niutsuhime Shrine isn’t the only attraction outside the sacred mountain but is related to Kōyasan’s founding. There are a few other temples and shrines located around Kudoyama Station that you would want to visit to complete your pilgrimage to Kōyasan.

Also, Kudoyama is known as a town deeply related to the renowned samurai in the Sengoku period – Sanada Yukimura. Being incredibly proud of the town where the Sanadas spent 14 years, the family’s crest can be seen just about anywhere you go!

Click the photo to find out more about Kudoyama!

For more information, please refer to our article on Kudoyama Town (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Discover Kōyasan, One of Japan’s Most Sacred Mountain

Click the photo to find out more about Kōyasan!

Kudoyama is like the prelude to the center of Japan’s Shingon Buddhism.

To find out more divine places to visit during your time at the sacred mountain, please read our article on Kōyasan. You will also find information on restaurants to enjoy the vegetarian Shōjin Ryōri, as well as temples you can stay in overnight!