tj_MG_3465.jpgKorinji Temple (#7)

tj_MG_3327.jpgImakawa Suzo Vinegar Brewerytj_MG_3377.jpgGesshoji Templettd_MG_3410.jpgKokutaiji Templetj_MG_3556.jpgRyotei Sankinro

Stroll the Sacred Temple Streets and Rediscover Yourself

Kanazawa’s Teramachi Jiingun (temple district) is designated as one of Japan’s Important Groups of Traditional Buildings. The Japanese go to temple only on special occasions in modern times, such as for Buddhist ceremonies. Hence recently, even we Buddhists hesitate to visit without a specific purpose. Can non-Buddhists enjoy visiting these heretical places? Let’s find it out with one of our Christian friends, Hiukei Li-Kinukawa.

More than 60 old temples, mostly built from the 8th to 17th century, are located within a 220,000 square meter area.

tj_MG_3345.jpgKanazawa has three temple districts. One is near Higashi Chayagai geisha district, called “Utatsuyama Jiingun,” while another called “Kodatsuno Jiingun” is located to the east of Kenrokuen garden. Last but not least, the third is the largest, called “Teramachi Jiingun” on the southern side of the Saigawa river. You might have already visited the popular temple, Myoryuji (#3 / 1643~), well-known as the “Ninja Temple.” It is located in this largest temple district. Most temple buildings were built from the 8th to 17th centuries and functioned as samurai family-temples, or for some other purpose. In around 1616, some were moved from downtown due to the Kaga clan’s defensive strategies.
tj_MG_3442.jpgAs you walk from Katamachi to Teramachi, you will see Uho-in (#1 / 736~) after crossing the Saigawa-ohashi bridge. This temple was dedicated to the god Kompira Daigongen at the prominent head temple in Kagawa on the island of Shikoku. After passing through the temple let’s stroll the small back street to the Nishi Chayagai! In spite of being just behind the main boulevard, it’s surprisingly quiet. This west geisha district is not touristy at all, and rather looks like sort of a quiet residential area. Turn left at the remarkable green building! It’s actually the geisha district’s office! There, another small street will finally take you to the temple district across the boulevard. Gannenji (#2 / 1596~1614) is well-known for a stone monument inscribed with Basho Matsuo’s poetry by the way. After zigzagging through a street, you will arrive at the most popular temple street. The Ninja Temple is on this street as well. Let’s turn right, then you will see the Deva Gate at Sankoji (#4 / 1635~). The devas engraved in 1991 are very unique.

As you walk further to the southwest along the road, a well-maintained and cozy garden will catch your eye. This is Kokutaiji (#5). After passing through the open space at Rokuto-no Hiromi, turn right to see a bunch of stone statues, engraved goddesses, and a Buddha at Gesshoji (#6)! The texture reminds one of Angkor Wat in Cambodia! One minute from this Gesshoji, an old vinegar brewery Imakawa Suzo is quietly run by the Imakawa family. They have a small gallery where anyone can stop in.
Just so you know, all temples have a graveyard to care for. Even if you are not aware of it, please do not forget at least to be polite while you are there!

As a Christian, although I don't go to temples to pray, I do enjoy the serenity.

On a beautiful day, we visited the temple district with Hiukei. As a matter of fact, most temple buildings are not open to the public unless you make an appointment. However, we discovered two nice, cozy temples uniquely welcome to the public without a reservation. {Korinji (1650) is renowned as a wishing temple. Many people come to Kanazawa from Tokyo, Osaka, or other cities to visit this temple and its adjoining garden called “Kofuku-no-michi (promenade for happiness).” Hiukei was a bit concerned if a Christian like her would be allowed to do it. However, the manager told us anyone could make a wish here. So we asked Hiukei to write something on a sash. At the garden, people walk around the promenade three times for making a wish. tj_MG_3351.jpg

tj_MG_3523.jpgHoshoji Temple (Tera Cafe)
During the last turn, hang your sash (with a wish) on your Eto (Asian zodiac sign) statue. How interesting!
(#8)Hoshoji (1631) temple is located near the Hamagurizaka intersection. The chief Buddhist priest there just started offering some rooms in the main hall as a cozy cafe in April. You can order Kaga-bocha tea, matcha green tea, coffee, and also some small confectionaries there. The interior which is awash with calligraphy is breathtaking. The menu or the signboards in English show that they are welcome to international tourists as well. If you have a chance to take a break there, please check the ceiling of the main hall as well! It has a very cool design.

Over the Hamagurizaka intersection, there is a slope down to the Saigawa river. You will not be able to ignore the old but beautiful wooden building of the Ryotei Sankinro (1922~) located on the slope. From the riverside, it looks four-storied, yet from streetside appears only to have three. Though we’ve not yet seen the inside of the building, we already hear of its great reputation. Why not have a traditional course meal here with a great river view if you have a chance?
“Teramachi was definitely an eye opening district to stroll around. I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the neighborhood, and the architecture. It´s like a treasure hunt walking around the district.” Hiukei says. “As a Christian, although I don’t go to temples to pray, I do enjoy the serenity. Temples create a space which allows you to be away from the chaos of the world and to have a time of meditation.”

Hoshoji Temple (Tera Cafe)
寶勝寺 (寺カフェ)

tj_MG_3485.jpgPhone: 076-287-3870 (Japanese) Open: 10:00-16:00 Closed Tuesdays (Japanese)

Korinji (Wishing Temple)

tj_DSC01927.jpgAdmission: adults ¥500 Phone: 076-241-3905 Open: 9:00-16:30 Closed during New Year’s holidays

Imakawa Suzo
(Vinegar Brewery) 今川酢造

tj_MG_3327.jpgPhone: 076-287-3870 (Japanese) Open: 9:00-19:00 (weekdays) 9:00-18:00 (Sundays and holidays) Closed irregularly (Japanese)

Sankinro (Japanese ryotei
restaurant) 山錦楼(料亭)

tj_MG_3579.jpgPhone: 076-243-5577 (Japanese) Open: 11:00-14:00 / 17:00-21:00; Closed Sundays *Reservations required