Located down in the south-eastern corner of Osaka Prefecture, Kanshinji Temple is locally revered for not only for its wonderful abundance of colour, but also for its many national treasures. Strolling through Kanshinji’s gardens I found myself spending a lot of time just taking in the colour. As an Australian with memories of, well, mostly brown, it’s a little fantastic and inspiring to see so much colour.
Here is the gravesite of the head of the famous samurai Kusonoki Masashige. This samurai was a brilliant tactician, who however died in a 100 vs 1000’s charge. He knew the charge to be folly, but as a true samurai he was bound to follow his Emperor’s orders. This display of honour earnt him high esteem, and today he is the only samurai to stand as a statue in the Imperial Palace of Tokyo. The story reminds me of Boromir and his final charge in Lord of the Rings.
Reaching Kanshinji Temple is very easy, thanks to the Nankai Railway. From Namba Station, a direct service runs to Kawachinagano Station. The trip takes about 30 minutes and costs 550 yen. Then, from Kawachinagano Station a bus completes the journey to the temple. The bus leaves from stand 3, but Kanshinji Temple is not the destination. Therefore, either take a bus to Kobukidai or Mt. Kongo Ropeway. The ride is quick at about 10 minutes, and costs 310 yen.
The Kondo (main hall) of Kanshinji Temple is a Japanese national treasure. If you are familiar with temple architecture, you might notice that the hall exhibits influence from all regions of Buddhism. The hall was first constructed in the year 825, and houses what is considered one of Japanese Buddhism’s best buddha statues. Unfortunately, I was unable to see it as it is only on display twice a year, April 17 and 18. I guess I will have visit again! Besides the samurai Kusunoki Masashige, the Emperor Go-Murakami is also enshrined here.
The grounds of Kanshinji Temple are rather spacious, so I could enjoy strolling around and finding little shrines surrounded by colourful leaves. There is also a nice open garden with a pond and some stone seating. On a clear sunny day, if you look up from under the blanket of red momiji (maple) leaves, you can see a marvellous sight. On the day that I visited, a chawan (Japanese tea bowl) craftsman had set up shop on one of the shrines, and a choir group performed a Japanese folk song in front of the kondo. It seems that Kanshinji Temple is treasured by the locals of Kawachinagano.
No doubt Kanshinji Temple is a great destination to visit in autumn, but it seems that the temple is also attractive in other seasons. I spied many plum blossom trees around the grounds, so I am sure that Kanshinji Temple must be stunning in February and March too.
The Kawachinagano area is host to much more than just Kanshinji Temple. In fact, I picked up a local area map upon arriving and wished I had a day or two extra here! There is even a riverside campsite, which I plan to go to next summer. One extra place I was able to see though was Enmeiji Temple. Enmeiji Temple is a fair walk from Kanshinji (at least 30 minutes), but the direct forest road was very peaceful. In fact, I didn’t see a single car during the whole walk.
Enmeiji Temple was first built in 810, then reconstructed in the Edo period. My impression of Enmeiji Temple was the gardens and surrounding park are what really makes this worth a visit. One highlight is the tree known as “Sunset Maple.” This tree is dated at 1000 years old!
I also found a beautiful lotus garden here, but as lotus flowers bloom in the summer, it was not peak time to see them. There also seemed to be some maintenance ongoing, probably to get it looking its best come summer.Behind the grounds of Enmeiji Temple, the wide forest-like Nagano Park is accessible by winding trails. The autumn foliage is perfect here, and the moss-covered trees and statues bring you into another, fantastic world. As a fan of the manga series ‘Mushishi’, this is a place I will not soon forget.
Enmeiji’s isolated location makes it difficult to reach, but I truly believe the effort is well spent. The most enjoyable way to get back to Osaka is by taking a forest route to Chihayaguchi Station. Just follow the signs marked “千早口”. Alternatively, a bus runs between Mikanodai Station and Kamigaokaguchi, from where Enmeiji Temple is just a 10 minute walk. I hope you will enjoy Kawachinagano as much as I did!
Hi! I am a traveler, musician and student living in Japan. I love traveling to places I don't know much about, and then learning as much as possible whilst I'm there. I spend my spare time at home writing fiction, non-fiction and programs, so I hope you find my articles here both informative and fun to read. I first came to the Kansai region as an exchange student, and through the kind hearts of the local people, the unique cuisine and the relaxed lifestyle, the region will always hold a special place in my heart.