"Tastes of JAPAN by ANA" is a regional vitalization project that collaborates with the different prefectures in Japan to present the Land of the Rising Sun in all of its diverse glory.
Rhododendrons in the spring, colorful leaves in the autumn, pray at Takeo’s Kouyaji Temple and throw away your misfortunes!
Kouyaji Temple in the town of Kitagata in Takeo is a "Rhododendron Temple," where 1,000 rhododendron bushes of 20 varieties bloom in April. Also known as "Shakunage Temple," this unique temple also has a Shakunage Kannon statue, which casts away the misfortunes of worshippers, and Bokefūji Kannon statue, which is said to ward off dementia.
This historic area was part of the Nagasaki Trail. It has many charms, including areas of beautiful flowers and delicious food offerings.
Here, we introduce some of the spots where you can enjoy the charms of the Kitagata Area.
Kouyaji Temple, one of the prefecture’s most famous spots for rhododendrons
This ancient temple, which was established by the monk, Kukai (774 - 835), is also known as "Shakunage (rhododendrons) Temple." A reference to this temple in ancient documents from the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) states, "Any sinner who flees to Kouyaji will have his sins forgiven."
From early April to early May, 1,000 rhododendron bushes of about 20 varieties, both Japanese and Western, bloom in full glory. The rhododendrons, sagging with blossoms, are strikingly highlighted against the green of the moss that covers the whole surface of the temple grounds (Shakunage Festival).
Visitors can also enjoy the resident priest’s "Comedic Sermon," sutra-copying experiences, and other experiences.
After praying at the temple, fill your stomach at Takeo-Kitagata Champon Alley
The "Nagasaki Trail", which stretches about 223.8 km from Kokura to Nagasaki, was one of the roads to the capital of Edo that were built in all parts of Japan in the Edo Period. Just a stone’s throw from Kouyaji Temple was the Kitagatajuku Honjin, lodgings where many people, including daimyos and government officials, stayed while traveling the Nagasaki Trail. The area still has many historical sites that tell the story of its past.
Time passed, and Kitagata later prospered thanks to the coal-mining industry after the Second World War. Answering the wishes of the coal miners, a champon unique to the Kitagata region, with a thick, rich soup and plenty of vegetables, was born. Other delicious dishes also await, including udon noodles, katsudon (fried pork cutlet served on a bed of rice), and oyakodon (chicken and egg served on a bed of rice)!
Venture a little further… in early summer, Daishoji Temple, the temple in the sky, is the place to go
Daishoji Temple was founded in 709 by the famous Japanese monk, Gyoki.
In early summer, the temple’s grounds are covered in the blooms of 5,000 hydrangea bushes. Facing away from the main worship hall, you will have a panoramic view of the many-colored hydrangeas and the city of Takeo stretching out below.
There also a number of ancient trees in the temple grounds that are worth seeing, including a podocarpus estimated to be over 500 years old, as well as a mochi tree (Ilex integra) and oak tree that have joined by rope, which worshippers pray to for a happy marriage and to find a good match.
|Web Sites||(In Japanese) http://www.kouyaji.jp/|
|Address||3245 Shiku, Kitagata-cho, Takeo-shi, Saga|
|Access||Approximately 10 minutes' drive from the Takeo-Kitagata IC|
|Business Hours||10:00 to 16:00|
|Admission||During Shakunage Festival: 500 yen|
|Web Sites||(In Japanese) http://www.takeo-kk.net/sightseeing/001289.php|
|Address||6694 Osaki, Kitagata-cho, Takeo-shi, Saga|
|Access||Approximately 20 minutes' drive from the Takeo-Kitagata IC|
|Business Hours||10:00 to 16:00|
|Admission||Beautification Contribution: Adults: 200 yen; Children: 100 yen (During hydrangea season)|