The Zen temple of Kodenji holds great significance in Japanese history and culture. Located in Saga City, this secluded temple is known for its association with Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a renowned samurai and the author of the famous book, Hagakure—The Way of the Samurai. It is believed that Yamamoto Tsunetomo came to Kodenji after renouncing his samurai status and shaved his head as a sign of his commitment to the austere practice of Zen.
Kodenji Temple is situated amidst a small bamboo forest, around three kilometers southwest of the city center. Its serene and tranquil environment makes it a perfect place for meditation and self-reflection. The temple is also known for its stunning plum blossoms, which bloom from mid-February to early March. During this time, the temple becomes a crossroads of natural beauty and ancient history.
One of the highlights of Kodenji Temple is the “Christian Lantern,” a 17th-century stone lantern that is engraved by the first Dominican friar allowed entry into the Saga Domain. This lantern is a testament to the cultural exchange and religious tolerance that existed during that period. It serves as a reminder of the rich historical background of the temple and the region.
Another notable feature of Kodenji Temple is the Reitoku Jubai plum tree, which has been designated as a natural monument by Saga City. This plum tree is a sight to behold when it is in full bloom, with its vibrant pink flowers adding a splash of color to the temple grounds.
Inside the temple, visitors can find the great Nehanzu painting of Kodenji. This painting depicts the reclining Buddha and is considered one of japan‘s largest Nehanzu. Standing at 16 meters high and six meters wide, this painting is over 300 years old and is a testament to the artistic and cultural heritage of the region.
If you happen to visit Kodenji Temple between April 19 and late May, you will have the opportunity to view this magnificent painting, as it is shown to the public during this time. Along with the Nehanzu painting, other temple treasures are also put on display, providing visitors with a glimpse into the rich history and artistic traditions of the temple.
To reach Kodenji Temple, you can take a bus from Saga Station to the Kodenjimae stop. The journey takes around 10 minutes, and from there, it is just a three-minute walk to the temple. Alternatively, you can opt for a taxi from Saga Station, which will take approximately 10 minutes to reach the temple.
Kodenji Temple is not only a place of historical significance but also a spiritual sanctuary. The serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it an ideal place for meditation and introspection. Whether you are a martial arts enthusiast paying respects to Yamamoto Tsunetomo or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, Kodenji Temple offers a unique experience that should not be missed.
In conclusion, Kodenji Temple is a hidden gem in Saga City, Japan. With its association with Yamamoto Tsunetomo, the author of Hagakure—The Way of the Samurai, and its stunning plum blossoms, the temple offers a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you are interested in Japanese history, Zen Buddhism, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, Kodenji Temple is a must-visit destination. So, take a moment to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Kodenji Temple.
Address And Maps Location:
1112-1 Honjomachi Oaza Honjo, Saga-shi, Saga-ken