[Kokutaiji Temple in Akkeshi] Old Cherry Tree Can Be Enjoyed at One of Greatest Ancient Temples in Hokkaido
August 22nd, 2019
Kokutaiji Temple (国泰寺) is an ancient temple founded in 1804 in Akkeshi town located in the eastern part of Kushiro city, and is next to Akkeshi Shrine (厚岸神社). The temple is one of The 3 Government Temples in Yezo recognized by Edo shogunate together with Usu Zenkoji Temple (有珠善光寺) in Date and Tojunin (等澍院) in Samani, and is well-known as a good place to see cherry blossoms. Old Cherry Tree (老桜樹) of 180 years old is famous. The best time to see the cherry blossoms is about from early May to mid May. A main building, a cemetery, the Old Cherry Tree, stone images of Kannon, Butsugesharito Stone (仏牙舎利塔), Ryuoden Building (龍王殿), Bato Kannon-do Building (馬頭観音堂), Akkeshi Town Local Museum (厚岸町郷土館) and Ainu People Chukonhi Stone (アイヌ民族忠魂碑) are built at the site. Admission free. But the main building is allow to enter for JPY 100. Business hour is 08:00-16:00. The Akkeshi Town Local Museum is allowed to enter for JPY 100, too. Business hour is 09:00-16:00. A parking lot is not provided, but a space for parking cars is near the local museum.
Speaking of the Akkeshi, oyster is famous. Dishes related to the oyster is served at some restaurants in the Akkeshi. As for restaurants in the Akkeshi, Moritaka Ranch (森高牧場), Akkeshi Ekimae Ujiie Machiaisho (厚岸駅前氏家待合所), Escale (エスカル), Sumiyaki Aburiya (炭焼炙屋) and Akkeshi Yabusoba (厚岸藪蕎麦) are popular in particular. Unfortunately, hot springs do not gush out in the Akkeshi.
Cherry Blossoms of Akkeshi Shrine
Akkeshi Shrine (厚岸神社) is an old shrine founded in 1791 by Mr. Tokunai Mogami (最上徳内), a famous explorer, in Akkeshi town located in the eastern part of Kushiro city, and is next to Kokutaiji Temple (国泰寺). Shinmeigu Shrine (神明宮), former Akkeshi Shrine, used to be originally at precincts of the Kokutaiji Temple, and it was transfered from there to here, and its name was changed as the Akkeshi Shrine. The shrine is not famous as a good place to see cherry blossoms, but the cherry blossoms at precincts of the Akkeshi Shrine are very good. The best time to see the cherry blossoms is about from early May to mid May. A main building, Juzo Kondo Memorial Stone (近藤重蔵の碑), a shrine office and a public restroom are built at the site. Admission free. A parking lot is not provided, but spaces for parking cars are near Akkeshi Town Local Museum (厚岸町郷土館) and the public restroom. Article is here
Cherry Blossoms of Hokkaido
Cherry blossoms begin to bloom from late April in Hokkaido. The cherry blossoms in the Southern Hokkaido including Hakodate begin to bloom from late April, and in case of late blooming, the cherry blossoms in the Eastern Hokkaido and the Northern Hokkaido seem to bloom in early June. The cherry blossoms in Honshu (the main island of Japan) begin to bloom from mid March, and tourists can enjoy the cherry blossoms until too late season. If everybody forget to see the cherry blossoms in the Honshu, please visit the Hokkaido to savor the cherry blossoms. Article is here
Precincts of Kokutaiji Temple
Precincts of the Kokutaiji Temple are roughly divided into 6 parts, the main building, the old cherry tree, the cemetery, a courtyard, 33 Kannon Reijo (三十三観音霊場) and a small hill. The precincts are not large, so I guess that it takes about 30 minutes to look around on foot. The main building is not the original building, but it retains the original atmosphere. Wild ginger trefoil coats of arms of the Tokugawa clan are attached on the surface of gates, so a quaint atmosphere recognized by the Edo shogunate still remains. Documents related to Yezo 3 Official Temples Kokutaiji Temple still remains, too, and can be read at the Kokutaiji Temple, the Akkeshi Town Local Museum and Akkeshi Town Maritime Memorial Hall (厚岸町海事記念館).
The old cherry tree is a sargent cherry transplanted from Ishinomaki city in Miyagi Prefecture to here in 1830 by Mr. Uemon Yamada (山田文右衛門), the Akkeshi contractor. It is about 180 years old, and the height is about 10 m, and the trunk of the tree is about 3 m. But the trunk is covered with a blue tarp because it is in decay. Few outstanding cherry trees are at the precincts, so I guess that the temple is well-known as a good place to see the cherry blossom because of this tree.
At the cemetery, tombs for buddist parishioners are lined, and a tomb of successive chief priests is built. The successive chief priests such as Mr. Buno Chisei (文翁智政), the first chief priest, rest in the tomb. The tomb is not a historical tomb, but it is a brilliant tomb.
A courtyard is between the main building and the old cherry tree. A pond is at the courtyard, but it does not have water. It might be a Japanese rock garden.
33 Kannon Reijo (三十三観音霊場) is not one of Hokkaido 33 Kannon Reijo. It seemed to be named after 33 statues of the Kannon lined along a path. At the innermost place, Butsugesharito Stone (仏牙舎利塔) of about 3 m height is built in 1843, and it is said that it is the oldest Butsugesharito Stone in Hokkaido.
Shikotan Pine Tree (色丹松) of over 200 years old grows beside the 33 Kannon Reijo. The type of the tree is Dahurica larch, and the height is about 12 m, and the trunk of the tree is about 2 m. Mr. Juzo Kondo (近藤重蔵), a famous explorer, brought it from Shikotan Island (色丹島), and planted it.S
Steps are built on the hillside of the small hill. Bato Kannon-do Building (馬頭観音堂) is built at the landing of the steps, and Ryuoden Building (龍王殿), Ruins of Shinmeisha Shrine (神明宮跡) and Memorial Stone of Gyokon (魚魂碑) are built on the hilltop. The Bato Kannon-do Building is made to hold a memorial service for horses, and Hayagriva (馬頭明王) is worshiped. Former Akkeshi Shrine called Shinmeigu Shrine (神明宮) used to be on the hilltop. The Memorial Stone of Gyokon is made to hold a memorial service for fishes by local fishermen. The Ryuoden Building is made to pray for a good haul by the local fishermen. I think that here is a place to thank the blessing of the sea.
|Admission fee||Free of charge|
|Parking lot||Free parking is provided (4 cars)|
|Regular closing day||Open year all round|
|Home page||Home page is here|
|Mapcode||637 101 546*17|
List of Accommodations
Refer to following websites for the accommodations in the Akkeshi. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.
|Hotel Gomi(ホテル 五味)|
|Suzuki Ryokan(丸ス 鈴木旅館)||
A page of Hokkaido Cherry Tree is here
Hokkaido Cherry Tree