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Okazaki City Guide

Hozoji Temple

This temple is said to have been founded in 701 by a priest named Gyoki. Located east of central Okazaki near Motojuku station, the temple is close to the old highway route that linked the imperial capitals of Nara (when Hozoji was constructed) and then Kyoto with Okazaki and the east of Japan.
Gyoki enshrined a Goddess of Mercy statue that he had carved himself. The current main hall dates from the 14th century.The main hall and the impressive wooden carvings all around the temple.
While a hostage of the Imagawa clan, the young Tokugawa Ieyasu was educated here and many of the cultural properties here are related to this time. For example the ancient pine trees where he hung his scrolls, the well used for water for calligraphy and so forth. Due to the patronage of the shogunate, the temple prospered and the wooden buildings were well maintained. An unusual feature is a burial mound and statue commemorating Kondo Isami, one of the leaders of the Shinsengumi during the bakumatsu period which saw the shogunate fall from power in 1868.
Second shrine

How to get there:
By public transportation: Take the Meitetsu Line from Okazaki to Motojuku, get out to the right side. Cross the street and look for the Coco convenience store. Turn left at the store and walk down that road. The temple is located on the right side of the street. Walking from the train station to the temple will take you about 10 minutes.
By car: Follow route 1 from Okazaki to Toyohashi until Motojuku. Turn right when you come up to the Coco convenience store. Then follow the same instructions as for walking.

Iga Hachimangu

Dedicated to Hachiman, the god of war, this shrine became a guardian shrine for the Matsudaira family. Tokugawa Ieyasu's powerful great-grandfather, Matsudaira Chikatada, is believed to have relocated this shrine from Mie. It was visited to pray for victories in war and for the survival and prosperity of the descendants. Despite being dedicated to a war deity, the shrine is peaceful and beautiful, particularly when the iris are blooming. Most of the current buildings are national important cultural properties, and were built by Ieyasu's grandson, Tokugawa Iemitsu. The architecture is stunning and the ornamentation beautiful.
The Matsudaira and Tokugawa warriors used to visit this shrine to pray for victory before any major battle. One legend is that when praying for victory, the army would remain at the shrine until the torii gate at the entrance moved, signifying the blessing of Hachiman. Morale boosted, the army would then set off to war. Part of the legend also says that knowing that value of high morale, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered ninja from the Iga province to secretly move the torii gate during the night to ensure the needed high morale.
Due to its location by the Iga River upstream from the castle, the shrine is the departure point for the popular Ieyasu Gyoretsu parade held in early April each year. The banks of the river are covered with cherry blossoms at this time.
Horse statue

Daijuji Temple

Location Daijuji is one of the major historical sites of Okazaki. Founded in 1475 the temple contains many items of cultural significance and is high on the list of cultural attractions of the city. Daijuji Temple is most famous in Japanese history by its connection with Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616).
Taho Tower
Daijuji was a favored temple during the long Tokugawa rule. The temple was established by the ancestors of the Tokugawa clan, the Matsudairas. This family connection made the temple important to Tokugawa Ieyasu, but in addition to this, the temple was in fact responsible for saving Ieyasu's life. After returning to Okazaki Tokugawa Ieyasu was involved in many skirmishes with a militant Ikko sect, and with a small band of followers found himself isolated close to Daijuji Temple. Seeking refuge here, he determined to commit suicide in front of the graves of his ancestors. At this time Toyo, a priest intervened and counseled Ieyasu not to give up hope saying, from the text of a sutra: Enriedo Gongujodo. This translates to English as, "Leave the depraved land. Pursue the peaceful world." Following Toyo's advice, Ieyasu rode out of the temple and managed to safely return to the Castle.
Taho Tower
One of the important sights on the temple grounds is the "Taho Tower". This tower was built by Ieyasu's grandfather in 1525. It consists of two different structures, one square, one circular, and is considered one of the most beautiful pagodas in the region. One interesting addition to the tower's garden is a pathway of stones set up to symbolize the path of Buddha during his life. Adjoining the tower is the Graveyard of the Matsudairas, another important place at the temple. Here you will find the tombs of the ancestors of the Tokugawas clan going back 8 generations from Ieyasu's father. These were set up by Ieyasu in 1602.
Tokugawa ancestors tomb
Another interesting sight at the temple is the screen painting by noted artist Reizei Tamechika (also called Okada Takechika, 1823-1864). Tamechika studied the ancient art of Yamato-e, a style of Japanese painting as well as Buddhist-influenced art. This type of art was important during the 12th and early 13th centuries in Japan and was inspired by Chinese T'ang paintings. Reizei Tamechika was partly responsible for a revival of the Yamato-e paintings. Many examples of Reizei Tamechika's art appear inside the temple.
A sight most people would also find interesting is the hall where the "ihai" are displayed. These are memorial tablets of the generations of Tokugawa shoguns. Note the size of each tablet. The size corresponds to the height of the shogun in real life. Ieyasu's tablet is here, as well as that of another very famous shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684-1751). Yoshimune was the eighth shogun in the Tokugawa dynasty and one of Japan's greatest rulers, introducing many important reforms to the government. Most might know him from the popular television series "Abarenbo Shogun". There is also an important wooden statue of Ieyasu, carved during the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu, Ieyasu's grandson. This statue portrays Ieyasu at the age of 73.
The impressive Sanmon gate
Tokugawa Iemitsu also built the impressive Sanmon Gate and the Bell tower in 1641. The gate enshrines three images of Buddha and wooden statues of 16 of his disciples. The calligraphy was made by Emperor Gonara (1536-57), and the gate itself is designated a cultural asset. If you look through the line of the gate from the main hall, you can see Okazaki castle in the distance, framed by the gate. Even today, the building codes of Okazaki prohibit high-rise construction that would break this viewline.
Okazaki donjon as seen through the Sanmon gate
How to get there:
Meitetsu Daijuji bus. 8 min. walk from the Daijuji bus stop (tel. 21-3917).
10 minutes by car or taxi from Higashi Okazaki train station along route 248.
About 25min by bicycle from Higashi Okazaki station north along Route 248. At the crossroads with the 5m gorilla on the roof (impossible to miss) turn right. It's indicated.

Rokusho Jinja

Entrance of the Temple
This beautiful shrine was where Tokugawa Ieyasu (then Matsudaira Takechiyo) was consecrated as a baby. The brilliant vermilion colored shrine was renovated on the orders of his grandson, Tokugawa Iemitsu, when he visited Okazaki in 1634 on his way to Kyoto.
The beautiful, detailed framework
The beautiful gate was built by the Iemitsu's son and successor, Tokugawa Ietsuna, the 4th shogun of the line. Both the Main Hall and Hall of Worship are protected as national important cultural properties. During the long reign of the Tokugawa shoguns, only important daimyo (regional lords) with a stipend exceeding 50,000 koku were allowed to ascend the stone steps leading up to the shrine.
These days the shrine is popular with women praying for an easy childbirth, and with tourists enjoying the peace and quiet and the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of daimyo.
Oni Head
Crafte Lamp
Tokugawa's Hand Print
Komainu statue

How to get there:
Myoudaiji-mimitori 44, Tel: 51-2930
The shrine is about a 5-minute walk from Meitetsu Higashi Okazaki Station.

Takisanji and Takisan Toshogu

he foundation of Takisanji dates back to the 7th century when it was constructed on imperial orders. The current temple is a reconstruction from the Kamakura period, and the Main hall (where the Fire Festival takes place each February), Sanmon gate and the Goddess of Mercy are designated as national important cultural properties. The roof of the main hall and the magnificent Sanmon gate are particularly striking. Next to Takisanji is a shrine built in 1646 by Tokugawa Iemitsu and dedicated to his grandfather Ieyasu. This shrine is considered to be one of the top 3 Toshogu style shrines in Japan, the other two being at Nikko and Kunozan. The Main Hall, the Hall of Worship, the Nakamon Gate and the Torii Gate are all designated as national important cultural properties.

Takisanji Shrine
Small Shrine
Third Shrine Takisanji
Second Shrine Takisanji

How to get to Takisanji:
From Higashi Okazaki north along Route 248, at the crossroads with the 5m gorilla on the roof turn right - the same crossroads as going for Daijuji. Follow that street past Daijuji and the Prefectural Multi-purpose Athletic Ground. From Daijuji it's about 25min by bicycle. A nice ride with convenience stores along the street for the hungry and thirsty.
road to Taksanji
River near Takisanji

Okutono Jinya

A Jinya was the name usually given to a headquarters (barracks) of a small landlord. Throughout the shogunate, the key currency unit was a measure of rice called koku (or goku depending on the reading) which was approximately 180 kilograms (396 pounds) of rice. The value of a feudal domain (and the taxes due from it) depended upon how much rice the domain could grow. Only a landlord with a domain exceeding 30,000 goku was allowed to build a castle (and only one per domain), and some landholdings were extremely large. Okutono Jinya was the headquarters of the Okutono branch of the important Ogyu Matsudaira family - one of the main relatives of the ancestral family of the Tokugawa. However the territory of the Okutono branch never exceeded 16,000 goku. Built by Matsudaira Morizane in 1711 it was governed until 1863 by the heads of the family for seven generations for the next 152 years. At one stage Okutono Jinya contained many different kinds of buildings. Apart from the main structure, there was a shoin style drawing room, a residence for the feudal lord, the local government office, a study, a training room, residences for the local administrators among a total of 33 buildings.

One of the first rooms you enter is a small armoury. Here are weapons including spears, halberds and various swords. The Jinya was a place of local government, and as with all government at the time it was military. There are also some displays introducing some of the famous members of the Okutono Matsudaira clan including Gengensai, an 11th degree master of one of the largest Japanese tea ceremony schools - Ura Senke (hence the emphasis placed on tea when visiting the Jinya), Nagai Naoyuki - the founder of the Japanese navy, and Matsudaira Norikata who was the last feudal lord of the Jinya and the founder of the former body of the Japan Red Cross. Also available for public view (permanent display) are the local clan records and valuable materials about the history of Okutono Jinya. In a separate building, there are also exhibits of some of the handmade fireworks for which Okazaki remains famous The main attraction though is the beautiful moss garden (called Hourai-no-niwa), the carp swimming in the ponds and the modern flower garden.

In May, there is a rose exhibition in the flower garden. Ideal for a romantic walk with your beloved - they have roses from all over the world, incl. the Red Devil, Ingrid Bergmann, Oklahoma and many more. The garden is surrounded by plum trees. The air is refreshingly clean.

How to get there:
By car: Go north on the Route 248, almost up to Toyota. At the crossroads with 39, turn right.
By bus: Okutono Jinya is reachable by bus from Higashi Okazaki station and JR Okazaki station.


Shinpukuji is the oldest temple in Aichi and one of the oldest in Japan as it was first built in the 6th century. Being one of the oldest temples around, it receives a lot of attention and lately has been getting somewhat touristy. The infrastructure has been updated to reflect that.
The actual temple is in the back of the area. The gate below is the entrance to the whole area. On the way to the temple you can catch a glimpse of a giant Buddha statue.
Main Entrance
The temple is set in a beautiful forest and is a good place to get away from it all. Only the forest itself is already worth visiting. Not only will it make you feel like you have been brought back in time but it also smells and sounds like a rainforest. If you have not been to a real rainforest before, this is as close as it will get.
Forest around the temple
The temple itself has been renovated and modernized in harmony with nature. A red metal bridge connects the temple with the restaurant, the omiyage shop and the restroom facilities, much to the relief of the elder people visiting Shinpukuji. Climb up the stairs to pray for your health or ask Ikkyuu-san for wisdom! In order to do that, you have to rub his head and then using the same hand, rub your own head.
Stairs to the temple
Shinpukuji is also famous for its bamboo shoot cuisine. A description is available on the Shinpukuji homepage
Shinpukuji - homepage at http://www.shinpukuji.com/ (Japanese only)

How to get there:
By car: The journey should take in total about 25-30 minutes form Higashi Okazaki station. The easiest access is from the Okazaki intersection or the Toyota intersetion of the Toukai highway. Please follow the instructions given on the Shinpukuji homepage here: http://www.shinpukuji.com/annaizu.html


This temple is believed to have the oldest hall of the Shin sect in the Mikawa region, known as the Yanagi-do. It is considered to be a superb example of Kamakura period architecture and is an important national cultural property. The temple was built in 1258 and contains the tombs of several Tokugawa warriors and the famous scientist Dr. Honda Kotaro.
At the time of the Ikko riot, this temple sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu who is traditionally said to have taken refuge in the temple.
How to get there:
Close to Nishi Okazaki station.


Located in Nukata-cho.
Tenonji was built by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu late in the 14th century.
U.S. military forces are prohibited from entering the temple grounds.
The temple grounds are dedicated to peace in the world, symbolized amongst others through the "May Peace Prevail on Earth" message in four languages (Japanese, French, English and Spanish) and the rather unusual pigeon statues on the corners of the bell tower roof. Usually there are Komainu statues guarding the temple. Pigeons are a traditional symbol of peace in the Western world, an image taken from the Bible.
Wysteria Park
There is an interesting story about the tree growing in Tenonji:
It is being said that Tokugawa Ieyasu only narrowly esacped an assassination attempt at Tenonji - when leaving Tenonji Ieyasu heard his name whispered from the direction of the tree and by turning around the deadly arrow shot in his direction missed him only by a few inches.
Whether Ieyasu was miraculously saved by ghosts, the gods or ninjas, nobody knows for sure. Fact is, the tree is an impressive sight and makes Tenonji an even worthier place to visit.
Sometimes the best things are just around the corner. A small path leading from the temple to the graveyard on the nearby hill provides a splendid view over the valley in which Tenonji is located. Be careful not to take pictures there or on other graveyards as, according to Japanese superstition, this will awaken the ghosts residing in that graveyard.
Wysteria Park
How to get there:
Take the Meitetsu train from Higashi Okazaki station to Motojuku station, change to the Meitetsu Kuragari Keikoku bus and walk 3 minutes east from the Katayose bus stop. From Higashi Okazaki to Tenonji, it takes more than 1.5 hours so plan accordingly.

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