Near the beginning of the Amanohashidate Sanbar there is a huge temple called Chion-ji Temple [智恩寺], commonly known as Monju-do. Enshrining the Buddhist deity of wisdom, Monju Bosatsu, this temple attracts not only many tourists on their way to nearby Amanohashidate Sandabar, but many students during exam season.
Chion-ji Temple Grounds
Because Chion-ji is the most famous temple near the Amanohashidate Sandbar, it draws many people every day. The temple is one of the three major Monju Bosatsu temples in Japan together with Abe no Monju in Nara and Kameoka Monju in Yamagata.
One of the very unique things in this temple are the omikuji, which are in the shape of sensu (fans). Just like regular omikuji that you can get from a shrine or temple, after purchasing one many leave their fortunes hanging from the trees around the temple.
In the center of this quaint temple, is the statue of the principle deity, Monju Bosatsu. According to temple records, Chion-ji was built in 808 C.E. but legend has it said that Izanagi and Izanami enshrined Monju Bosatsu here in order to seal dragon while they were creating Japan. The statue of Monju Bosatsu is open to public only a few times a year*.
When you come to Chion-ji don’t forget to go through chie no wa, or “wisdom circle”. If you pass through three times, you can receive the intelligence from Monju Bosatsu. However, the problem is the circle is simply set too high for anyone to pass through (except for maybe some crazy fit gymnast?) Maybe this is some sort of brain teaser?
Points of Interest
Chie no Mochi
The souvenir to get when you visit Amanohashidate is chie no mochi, which has been made here since the 14th century . Rumor has it that you can receive the wisdom of Monju Bosatsu, simply by eating them.
Four different stores in front of Chion-ji Temple sell chie no mochi, and each store offers their own special version. You can either bring them back or eat them in the restaurant, but keep in mind that these mochi only last about a day or two.
There is so much anko (red bean paste), it practically buries the soft chewy mochi. If you have ever been to Ise Jingu, you may think this looks an awful lot like Ise’s akafuku. However, but I think the style of anko in chie no mochi is a bit sweeter than akaufuku…In any case, it is very tasty!
Information: Chion-ji Temple
Monjyu 466, Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture
From Osaka: Take the Konotori to Amanohashidate Station via the Kitakinki Tango Railway. Change trains at Fukuchiyama for Amanohashidate Station.
From Kyoto: Take the Hashidate to Amanohashidate Station.
Monju Bosatsu Viewing are January 1-3, January 10, July 24