Have you ever missed your mother so much you build an entire temple dedicated to her? The owner of Kosanji Temple did, the wealthy steel pipe businessman of Osaka known as Kanemoto Kozo who later changed his name to Kosanji Kozo. In 1934, his mother died, he gave up his job and became a Buddhist priest to ensure his mother would find rebirth into Buddhist paradise after her passing. Two years later, He devoted his life into creating the most magnificent temple, but little did he knew the construction of the temple would not complete for another 30 years. 

The Guide to Kosanji Temple in Onomichi

Kosanji Temple Interior

The temple is a combination of many of the iconic and famous religious buildings in Japan from Kyoto, Nara to Nikko. This brings out the specialty of the temple, making it the one of its kind. These are a few special structures of the temple:

The Sammon and Chumon Gates

The gates are a mixture of the few greatest gates in Japan, which are the gate in Kyoto Imperial Palace and Nara Horyu-ji near to the western side. It was originally made of pure Japanese wood but the current one is made of steel. The gates are built similar to the iconic gates but with extra defined details added to make it special.

Koyomon Gate

Remember the Yomeimon Gate at Nikko Toshugu Shrine? Then you will have a strong Déjà vu, as the gate is a full-scale reconstruction of the one in Nikko. This is the most popular gate and the face of Kosanji Temple.

Gojunoto Pagoda

You would not miss this, as it is standing at the middle of the temple and 5 stories tall. The pagoda is also known as The Tower of the Great Merciful Mother, because the remains of Kanemoto Kozo’s mother is buried underneath the tower itself. The tower is a resemblance of the pagoda in Muro-ji in Nara.

Kosanji Temple Caves

Fancy a visit to the Buddhist Hell? The man-made cave features a series of gruesome artwork and statues that present the Buddhist Hell such as the demons squashing, cutting and mutilating humans. It is 15 meters long of vivid and explicit showcase of the tortures awaiting those that descend into Buddhist Hell. It will get quite unbearable to see but after this section is followed by a beautiful section with twisting tunnels and spiral staircases lined with a thousand Buddhas, some of them are handcraft by Kanemoto Kozo himself. You will pass through the pathway and you are out in the open again.

Kosanji Temple Mother of Mercy Statue

Also known as the Statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. The statue is standing at 15 meters tall, which is based on a much smaller statue at Horyu-ji Temple in Nara, only 197cm tall. The statue in Kosanji Temple is sculpted in concrete and plaster over an iron core.

Miraishin no Oka, The Heights of Eternal Hope for the Future

During the construction of the temple, over 3,000 tons of Italian fine cut pure white marble are shipped all the way from Italy. All the marbles are then sculpted by an international renowned sculptor, Kazuo Kuetani. The marbles on the hill are his masterpiece. With the shining sunlight the marble will look very luxurious and expensive. You could walk up to the pinnacle of the hill and catch a beautiful view of the surrounding town, mountains, islands and the clear blue Seto Sea.