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HOME > Introduction to 16 Areas of Attraction > Aizu, Kitakata, Bandai, Ouchijuku

Introduction to 16 Areas of Attraction

Aizu, Kitakata, Bandai, Ouchijuku

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Samurai City, Aizuwakamatsu

Picturesque Post Station: Ouchi-juku

Snow Activities in Bandai

Japanese Heritage; Aizu

Pilgrimage to the 33 Kannon Buddha Temples

Tourist information that covered in the articles

Juichimen Senju Kannon, Eryu-ji temple

Aizu Culture through the eyes of a pilgrim

Aizuwakamatsu, or Aizu for short, is a historic castle town known as the “land of the last samurai” in the Aizu district of Fukushima Prefecture in Tohoku. The people of Aizu were people of good faith and had a custom of paying respect to all 33 Kannon Buddha temples in the form of a pilgrimage. More than a tough, ascetic ritual, though, this pilgrimage was for entertainment.

In the Edo period, people would journey to the temples for sightseeing; even now, many people make the pilgrimage with friends. The image of Kannon makes its appearance everywhere, from wonderful temples in the city to the stone Buddhas in the mountains. Follow us on our journey as we visit some of them.

Eryu-ji temple

Sazaedo

Visit the 33 Kannon Buddha Temples around Aizuwakamatu

Kannon, known as Kuan Yin or Goddess of Mercy to the Chinese, was known to have 33 manifestations. Most of the temples are modest, wooden structures, each dedicated to the various manifestation of Kannon. For example the Eryu-ji temple is dedicated to Juichimen Senju Kannon, the eleven-faced, one-thousand armed Kannon. The massive statue, standing at 8.5 meters high, was carved out of one single tree by Kobo Daishi (Kukai), the founder of Shingon Buddhism, in 808. It is designated as a National Treasure of Japan.
The temple itself was built in 1190. The statue is guarded by 28 Busyu divine generals and the gods of Wind and Thunder. The temple is believed to help visitors to overcome their negative attitude in life.
Another unique temple on the trail is Sazaedo Temple on Iimoriyama Hill, built in 1796 with an extraordinary, 16.5 meters high, three-storey hexagonal structure with a sloping double-helix ramp. Visitors ascend the ramp in a clockwise direction and descend anti-clockwise, thus not retracing any steps in their spiral track. It is an ingenious design.

Sakudari Kannon Temple

In a forest on a remote mountain in Aizumisato, built in 830 at an altitude of 380 meters high, stands a simple but important rustic wooden temple called Sakudari Kannon Temple that is wedged against a rock face. It is said that Kukai founded this temple and carved its 80 centimeters high principle image, Kubinashi Kannon, which is placed upon an altar in a grotto concealed from public view. Not only is the structure of the temple truly amazing, the view is simply breathtaking.

The stone Buddhas in Sakudari Kannon Temple

Road to the Edo Period

There is a place where you can still enjoy the same experiences as a traveler from long ago: Ouchi-Juku, which lies south of Aizuwakamatsu on an old road called “Aizu Nishikaido.” The village is reminiscent of the old post towns on the ancient trade route in the Edo period; merchants and feudal lords would pass this way to rest and refresh. It is a living museum of old traditional houses with thatched roofs and bustling shops selling food, drinks and souvenirs. Here, you can experience and enjoy how the people of Aizu spent their everyday lives and lived their faith.

Aizumisato

The main street of Ouchi-Juku

Access:

Eryu-ji temple: 20-min walk from Todera Station (unmanned station on the Tadami Line)
Sazaedo: 4-min by Akabe bus from Aizu-Wakamatsu Station, get off at Imoriyama shita.
Sakudari Kannon Temple: 12-min by car from Amaya Station (Aizu Railway Line)
Ouchi-Juku: 15-min by car from Yunokami Onsen Station (Aizu Railway Line)

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Eryu-ji temple

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Sazaedo

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