Exploring Japan: A day trip to Kawasaki Daishi

Exploring Japan: A day trip to Kawasaki Daishi

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Okinawa
Heikenji Temple, aka Kawasaki Daishi, is one of the most popular Buddhist Temples in Kanagawa Prefecture and a must-see attraction in Kawasaki City.
This temple draws about 3 million visitors annually for a traditional New Year’s visit – the third largest in Japan. To transport visitors from Tokyo to the temple, Keikyu Railway, the oldest railway company in Kanto Plain, started its operation in 1899.
Since its foundation of 1128, the temple has been known as a sanctuary to ward off evil fortune.
According to Japanese tradition, ages 25, 42 and 60 for men, and ages 19, 33 and 60 for women are supposed to be unlucky years. Because the temple is believed to ward off evil fortune, people of these ages visit there to pray. If you are of age, you may want to visit the temple to ward off your unluckiness.
Although I am not at an age of unluckiness, I visited the large Buddha statue in majestic main hall, put my hands together and wished for even better luck.
The main hall, main gate and octagonal five-story pagoda of the temple were majestic and worth checking out.
A temple approach to the main gate was lined with restaurants and shops selling all kinds of souvenirs and colorful daruma dolls. Shop staffers repeatedly offered me rice cakes and sweet tea, which I could not resist, and sampled them on the way out.
Located just a five-minute walk from the temple is Wakamiya Hachimangu Kanayama Shrine.
Having been created to enshrine the gods of blacksmiths and fertility, the shrine is said to provide the blessings of business prosperity, fertility, safe and easy delivery, marriage, marital harmony and warding off venereal diseases.
To my surprise, there were many colorful figures of male genitalia in the field of the shrine. In front of a hexagonal black iron-plated shrine hall, I found letters of people wishing - “May we have a child,” or “May I marry someone.”
During Kanamara Matsuri (iron penis festival), held in the shrine garden annually on the first Sunday of April, three portable shrines of male genitalia are carried by hundreds of people, drawing international interest.
Kawasaki Daishi
Location: 4-48 Taishicho, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture (10-minute walk from Kawasaki Daishi Station of Keikyu Line)
Tel: 044-266-3420
Wakamiya Hachimangu Kanayama Shrine
Location: 2-13-16 Daishiekimae, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture
Tel: 044-222-3206

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