Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Kozanji Temple Tanabe


Kozanji is a popular temple complex with large cemetery and grounds in Tanabe, Wakayama.

It is said to have been founded by Kobo Daishi, though another source suggests it was founded much earlier during the time of Shotoku Taishi.

The Tahoto, Shingon-style pagoda, has become the symbol of the temple. It was built in 1816 and is dedicated to Prince Shotoku.

Other buildings include 2 Yakushi-do's, a Daishi-do, a Fudo-do, and a Kannon-do.

During the Warring States Period, in the late 17th century the temple was destroyed during Hideyoshi's invasion of the area, but was rebuilt later and in the Edo Period changed its name to Kozanji.

It was pouring with rain when I visited on my way out of Tanabe heading north along the Kumano Kodo towards Osaka on the 5th day of my walk along the Saigoku Pilgrimage.

Many people visit Kozanji to pay respect at the grave of Ueshiba Morihei (1883-1969), a locally-born  man who is known as the founder of the martial art called Aikido.

With millions of practitioners in more than 140 countries world-wide, some make the pilgrimage to his grave here.

Another of Tanabe's famous sons buried here is Munakata Kumagusu, an eccentric scientist who is gaining in notoriety and is sometimes referred to as the first environmentalist in Japan.

As well as being the site of his grave, the grounds of the temple were a place he spent a lot of time collecting specimens, and where it is believed his campaign against the government program of shrine closures took form.

The previous post in this series on the Saigoku Pilgrimage was the former residence of Minakata Kumagusu.


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