Yanagidani Kannon (Yokoku-ji Temple)

A hidden autumn beauty of in Rakusei area

Text: Yumi Oki 


Yokoku-ji Temple has been known to have the power in curing eye diseases among the royal family from as old as Heian Period (794-1192). Today, many people still visit the Yanagidani Kannon statue (Kannon is known as the goddess of mercy with 11 faces, thousand arms and thousand eyes) and holy water that Buddhist monk Kukai has created to heal eye diseases 'okouzui'. 

In the Edo period (1603-1867), this temple has become all the more famous when Emperor Reigen's eyes healed after his visit. Since then, the temple had been offering okouzui-water until the start of Meiji period in 1869. This temple is also one of Nishiyama Sanzan (the 3 major mountains of western mountain region) along with Komyo-ji and Yoshiminedera temples.


Monk Enchin, who established Kiyomizudera Temple had established Yokoku-ji in 806. Hence it had been called the Kiyomizu of west and has many historical items related to the royal family. It's Kamijoin is a Japanese cypress made exclusive hall only opened to the royal people. Today, they are opened for public view during the morning of 17th day each month. The view from this hall is splendid that it has become one of 'hidden' spots now.


This Kannon, a guardian of eyes, statue is also well known spot for beautiful autumn leaves. The great background view of the mountains and the ground covered with red and yellow autumn leaves creates outstanding beauty.

The view of autumn garden from Kamijoin is worth a visit. Although it is usually opened for a short time every month, they have a special Yanagidani Kannon Autumn Leaves Week from November 19th, Saturday, to December 4th, Sunday, this year that offers public view.

There are other limited programs such as stamp made with pressed autumn leaf and special exhibition of ukiyoe drawings. It is a bit far from the city but this also means that you can get away from the crowd and enjoy relaxing autumn moment.

If you can't make it there for autumn, you will also have a chance during hydrangea season in June. Over 4,500 hydrangea is planted here to create an elegantly bright scene.

Kamijoin will again be opened for a whole week prior to the peak blooming of the flowers. Temple's treasure items and ukiyoe drawing will be exhibit as well as markets and performances to attract visitors.

ADDRESS: 2 Jododani Dounotani, Nagaokakyo (map)
PHONE: +81(0)75-956-0017
HOURS: 9:00 - 17:00
ENTRANCE FEE: Free (certain places may need entrance fee)
WEB: http://yanagidani.jp/

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