Anrakuji Yoshimi Kannon is one of a few temples where I personally have felt a strong presence upon entering the grounds. Whether you believe in power spots or not, Yoshimi Kannon is set in such a magnificent setting that it will awe you with its beauty, if not its mystic charm.
Yoshimi Kannon or Anrakuji (Anraku temple) is a designated important cultural property of Yoshimi. It is the 11th “fudasho” on the Bando pilgrimage. A “fudasho” means the sacred site for pilgrimage or simply put a stop on a pilgrimage. The Bando pilgrimage is a famous 33 fudasho / temple stop in the Kanto area.
In this article:
- About Yoshimi Kannon
- Temple Gate
- Religious Fortune and Amulets
- Notable Events
Yoshimi Kannon is also called Anrakuji (Anraku Temple). Originally founded in 806 by the Monk Kaiki, buildings on the grounds have undergone reconstruction over the years. The last reconstruction of the main hall and alterations to buildings were done in 1923. The original thatch roofs of the main hall, pagoda and the gate were replaced with copper plated roofs at that time.
Located on the south side of the temple along a tree lined stone path, the Temple Gate at Yoshimi Kannon is a Romon, one of two types of temple gates at Japanese temples. A romon has a single roof, unlike the other type, a nijumon, which has a double roof.
Often temple gates, called Niomon in Japanese, are two storeys, but the one at Yoshimi is a one story building. It is a traditional sanma itto eight legged gate. Like most temple gates of this type, there are two kings (made of wood), called Nio in Japanese, guarding the gate and the temple beyond. The guard on the right has his mouth open and the one on the left his mouth closed. This is a symbolic reference to a start and end to all things.
The guard on the right is uttering “a” the first sound in Japanese language used to represent in this incidence birth or beginning. The guard on the left is saying the last sound of the Japanese language “un” representing death or the end.
The garden of the temple is breath taking. It is quite simple, but magnificent. I visited in Autumn when it is particularly becoming with the autumn leaves changing colors to vibrant yellows, oranges and reds. There are several evergreens too and the temple is back dropped by a natural forest.
There’s lots to discover in the garden and the grounds between various statues, bells, towers and other religious artifacts. On the West side there is a moon bridge over a lotus pond. There is also a Daibutsu and pagoda in the garden too;
Daibutsu literally means giant Buddha. It refers to the statues of Buddha on temple grounds. Some are larger than others, one of the largest in the world is in Ushiku. Another notable Daibutsu in the Kanto plain is the sitting Buddha in Kamakura. The Daibutsu at Yoshimi Kannon is also a sitting Buddha. It is made of copper and is more than 200 years old.
The pagoda on the grounds of the temple is a three tiered 24.3 meter high wooden pagoda. It was added to the temple about 380 years ago. It could do with a lick of paint in all honesty and would probably be even more impressive for it. But there is a charm to the weather battered rustic exterior and it fits perfectly with the environment.
Religious Fortune and Amulets
Omikuji is a type of fortune prediction used at temples and shrines. In return for a small fee you receive a slip of paper with your fortune inscribed. The level of fortune ranges from “daikichi” or great fortune / blessing to “daikyou” or great curse. There are ten in between, four of which are also curses.
My four children did the omikuji at Yoshimi Kannon. Three of them got “daikichi” and my son got “kichi”. I mention this because it is quite unusual in our experience to get three “great blessing” fortunes at a temple. The omikuji are sold from a box beside the priest’s house on the west end of the garden.
Another thing worth noting about the omikuji at Yoshimi Kannon is that you also get an amulet with them. I’ve never seen this before. And what a great consolation if you do happen to get the worst curse fortune. At least with an amulet in your pocket you are offered protection from your cursed fate! Moreover, the omikuji + amulet are only a 100 yen each.
On June 18th annually the inner hall of the temple is open to the public. The temple opens overnight to accommodate the throes of worshipers who wish to pray early. It is said that the earlier your prayers, the more value behind them.
Their most famous event is probably the “healing night” held annually in November while the autumn leaves are at their prime. They light up the temple and pagoda for two nights for this event and there are special performances on the night. This is run with Hatchoko park which is also lit up for the occasion.
Another notable temple in Yoshimi: Iwamuro Kannon.
Yoshimi Kannon Information
|Address:||374 Gosho, Yoshimi, Hiki District, Saitama 355-0151|
|Hours:||Summer 8 am to 5 pm|
Winter 9 am to 4 pm
|Cost:||Free to enter, amulets 100 yen|
Yoshimi Kannon Access
The temple is located on the side of a hill with only narrow roads surrounding it. As such, it is difficult to get to by car and there are only parking spots for about five cars on the west side. The easiest thing to do if you come by car is park by Hatchoko park and walk about ten minutes to the temple.
By public transport it is also quite tricky to get to this temple. The nearest station is Higashimatsuyama station on the Tobu Tojo line. From that station you would need to take a bus because on foot it would take about an hour.
There is very little online in English about Yoshimi Temple that I could find. I did find these two brief articles: