A Breathtaking View! The Seto Inland Sea From Bandai-ji Temple
Bandai-ji Temple, located at the southernmost tip of the Numakuma Penninsula, known as Cape Abuto, in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima is a curious temple beloved by locals as a place to pray for safe seafaring passage and healthy children.
Fukuyama city in Hiroshima prefecture is not lacking when it comes to interesting places to visit, such as Fukuyama Castle, Tomonoura (a port town where the spirit of the Edo period continues to live on), and Sensui-jima Island with its gorgeous view of the sea.
However, there is one more place that we hope visitors to Fukuyama stop off at: Bandai-ji Temple, known to locals as Abuto Kannon. The temple gets this name from its primary idol, the Bodhisattva Kanzeon, enshrined within the Kannon Hall built on Cape Abuto.
A Historic Temple by the Sea
Located at the southernmost tip of Numakuma Penninsula, wrapped in perilous cliffs, is Cape Abuto, upon which the Kannon Hall was built. One look at the temple is thrilling, to say the least, affording the kind of view not found at any other temple in Japan. The vermillion-lacquered Kannon Hall is juxtaposed beautifully against the sea and rocks, and has become famous throughout Japan thanks to being immortalized by the ukiyoe artist Hiroshige.
Getting to Abuto Kannon from JR Fukuyama Station takes around 45 minutes by car or taxi, though visitors can also reach the temple via a Tomotetsu Bus, 45 minutes from the station and a 15-minute walk from the “Abuto Kannon Iriguchi” bus stop.
Getting off the bus, you’ll walk along the coast and be treated to a view on your right of the Abuto Strait. If you come on a clear day, you’ll be able to see the mountains stretching along the far end of the sea, a truly relaxing view.
After walking about 5 minutes, the entrance to Banda-ji Temple will come into sight.
Make sure to pay the 100 yen entrance fee once you arrive at the temple.
Once inside the temple grounds, you’ll be treated to Banda-ji Temple’s beautiful reception hall, designated an important cultural property.
It is said that Banda-ji Temple was founded by Kakuso Kenchi sometime between 1338 and 1342. Though the temple went into a state of disrepair and eventually ruin after that, the ruling feudal lord Mori Terumoto had the reception hall and Kannon hall restored sometime between 1570 and 1573, and those halls still stand today.
Moving on through the temple grounds, you’ll encounter a vermillion-colored building. This is the entrance to the Kannon Hall, so proceed up the steps, take your shoes off once you reach the top, and head inside; a breathtaking view awaits you.
A Spectacular View of the Seto Inland Sea
Once you’ve entered the Kannon Hall, you’ll first be greeted by the absolutely astonishing blue of the Seto Inland Sea.
Here you’ll be treated to a view perfectly contrasting the mountains against the sea, with the sunlight dancing across the water. Another surprising facet of the temple is how low its railings are; only coming up to one’s elbow, it’s thrilling to say the least! And as there’s nothing else to interfere with the gorgeous view, you can freely take in the splendor of the Seto Inland Sea.
It would be a shame to just make one pass around the temple and leave, so if you’ve got some free time, we suggest sitting down and really taking in the view. However, if you happen to be traveling with small children or elderly family members, make sure to be extra careful that they don’t slip and hurt themselves.
Unique to the Whole World? Booby Ema
Around the year 986, so as to protect all seafaring vessels that passed by the cape, Emperor Kazan had an eleven-faced Kannon made of stone erected atop the cape. In the one thousand years since it was built, the temple has become known for safe seafaring as well as for fertility and safe childbirth. Taking the latter into consideration, one can see how the unique practice of what we’ll call “Booby Ema” arose as a good luck charm.
The temple has since become famous not only for its amazing view but also for these special good luck charms, and this is probably the only place in the world where you can see them, at the important cultural property of Japan which is Bandai-ji.
Descending down the stairs from the Kannon Hall, you will be greeted by a pagoda.
Make sure to greet the Bodhisattva Kannon before moving on.
In front of the pagoda, you’ll be able to see the Kannon Hall sitting precipitously atop the cliffs. Seeing the temple, seamlessly woven into the rocks, with your own eyes, you can immediately understand what inspired Hiroshige to reproduce it as a woodblock print.
The Truly Unforgettable Abuto Kannon
Banda-ji Temple is likely to leave an impression that you’ll never forget, what with its amazing view of the sea and it’s crisp, brisk air, and there are plenty of people so enthralled by this special place that they are drawn back to it again and again from all corners of Japan. Come visit the Abuto Kannon and see the Seto Inland Sea at Banda-ji, a temple beloved by visitors for nearly half a century.
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