The south Kawachi region is home to beautiful mountain chains, which a number of people enjoying climbing. This beautiful mountainous region is also the birthplace of one of Japan’s most infamous samurai warriors, Kusunoki Masashige. This warrior who battled loyally for the throne spent his youth studying in Kanshinji Temple. Today, the temple is one of the most popular places in the Kawachi region as it proudly remembers its history as well as Masashige
The History of Kanshinji Temple
Established by En no Gyoja [役行者], Kanshinji was small temple initially, but it grew in popularity along with Koyasan in Wakayama. In fact it was Koyasan’s founder, Kukai, who enshrined his statue of Nyoirin Kannnon and one of his monks, Jitsue, who helped make this temple successful.
Even though the temple got off to a great start with the aid of the famous spiritual leaders, what it is most famous for is being the place where Kusunoki Masashige, spent most of his boyhood. Though not much of Masashige’s early life is well-known, it is certain that he studied at Kanshinji. It is also certain that he must have been an intelligent warrior, since he became a high rank politician during Go-daigo’s government. Today, Masashige sleeps in the corner of Kanshinji Temple.
Kanshinji is located at the foot of Mt. Kongo, the tallest mountain in Osaka. It is quite pretty temple especially in the fall.
Because Kanshinji is quite a large temple, we’re only going to cover the highlights of the temple.
On top of the hill of the temple grounds is the kondo, one of Osaka’s four national treasure buildings. Kusunoki Masashige built the kondo upon requesting of Emperor Go-daigo in 14th century. While the architecture is mostly traditional Wa-yo style, it has characteristics of newer styles like Zenshu-yo and Daibutsu-yo. Kanshinji’s kondo is considered as one of the best surviving examples of a mixed style building.
The kondo enshrines Nyoirin Kannon statue, which dates back to the Heian Period. This famous statue is one of the three most famous statues Nyoirin Kannon in Japan. It even still has some colors on it. Naturally, this statue is a National Treasure but unfortunately it is only open to public viewing from 4/17 -18 every year. There is a picture of it inside the Kondo though.
The Grave of Kusunoki Masashige
In the corner of the temple is the grave of Kusunoki Masashige. Masashige committed suicide after his defeat at the hands of Ashikaga Takauji in Kobe. After his death, Takauji politely found Masashige’s body and sent it back to Kawachi.
The Big Dipper
Kanshinji has a very unique characteristic; it worships the Big Dipper. The connection to this constellation stems from Kukai, whose fixation on the Big Dipper is connected to the Taoism he studied in China. There are seven little temples, called Hozhisuka, in the temple grounds and if you go all of them, you can purify yourself.
Start at the kondo first and then visit all seven Hoshizuka. After visiting all of those, pray at the Kariteimoten-do in the center of the temple.
Information: Kanshinji Temple
475 Teramoto, Kawachinagano City, Osaka Prefecture