Kameoka-jinja Shrine

In 1880 four shrines that were located on the grounds of Hirado Castle, namely Shichirô-jinja Shrine, Otomiya-jinja Shrine, Hachiman-jinja Shrine and Reichinzan-jinja Shrine, were merged together into Kameoka-jinja Shrine where the four deities were enshrined together. It is the site of the famous Hirado Okunchi festival that takes places in October. In front of the shrine is a traditional stage where the Kagura dances are performed. These ritual dances, in which real swords are held in the mouth and in the hands during the dynamic dances, are nationally designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property.

Kameoka-jinja Shrine is located in Kameoka Park which is in the Hirado Castle grounds. Throughout the year the park is visited by visitors to the castle and locals alike. There is a protected area for the Hirado Azaleas that grow here naturally in addition to a row of 400 year old Kusamaki trees. In spring the park becomes a popular place to go and see `Sakura`, cherry blossoms. During this time many people sit down and enjoy food and drinks while admiring the cherry blossoms, the shrine and the castlefs turrets as backdrop. Kameoka Park also contains a large communal sports ground including tennis courts.

Location Hirado City, Iwanoue-cho 1517, 859-5121
Entance Fee Free
Contact Hirado Tourism, Commerce and Industry Division, Tel: 0950-22-4111

Saikyô-ji Temple

At the southern end of Hirado City Centre you can find the brightly coloured pagoda of Saikyô-ji Temple. The young monk Kûkai (also known as Kôbô-Daishi) returned from China on an envoy back from the Tang Dynasty arriving in Hirado and it is here where he held the `Goma Kuyô`, a ritual of lighting a holy fire of invocation. Saikyô-ji Temple is known as Kôya-san Of The West as it is one of the main religious centres connected with Kûkai in western Kyushu.

A path lined with 88 Jizô statues leads up to the Oku-no-in Taishi-dô Hall and the three storied `Sanjû Daitô` pagoda. Famous for its Buddhist art, it is said that Saikyô-ji Temple has got one of the best art collections among the temples and shrines in Kyushu, some of which is on display in the Reihô-kan Museum, or the Sacred Treasure Hall. Here you can find various items on display such as a vividly coloured painted silk screen concerning Buddha reaching Nirvana, a painting about the birth of Buddha and a statue of Aizen Myô-ô, sometimes referred to as the Japanese Buddhist divinity of love or lust.

The pagoda finished construction in 1988 and is one of the largest pagoda structures in Japan. With its bright vermillion colour it is visited every day by tourists and pilgrims alike. It was built to commemorate the 1150th anniversary of Kôbô-Daishi's death. The large structure is build next to the Main Hall of the inner sanctuary and is 33.5 metres high measured up to the base of the metal tip. The basement is a dark space as if one enters the womb of the Dainichi Nyorai Buddha. After this one enters the first story called the `Myô-ô Iryoku Den` Room where the Buddhist divinity Fudô Myô-ô is enshrined. The second story is the `Bokka Shûrei Den` Room where original masterpieces of calligraphy are displayed. From the third story, the `Yûken Nehan Den` Room, one has a nice view over the Hirado Straight, Hirado Castle and the city centre. It is also where people fallen in war and ancestors of contributors to the temple are worshipped.

Saikyô-ji Temple is also the place where the Konaki Crybaby Sumo is held every year in February. See the Events section for more information.

Address Hirado City, Iwanoue-cho 1206-1, 859-5121
Opening times Open daily from 08:30 hours till 17:00 hours
Closed on Open every day of the year
Entrance Fee Entrance fee to both the pagoda as well as the Reihô-kan Museum:
Adults ¥400, Adolescents ¥300, Children ¥200
Parking Bus and car parking available
Contact Saikyô-ji Temple Website (Japanese only): http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~saikyoji/
Saikyô-ji Temple Telephone: 0950-22-2469

Fumon-ji Temple

Fumon-ji Temple in Kigatsu Town is the old site of the Ryûzui-ji Temple from where you can look out over Kigatsu Bay. Therefs a quiet peaceful atmosphere and a charming garden in the temple grounds. The temple consists of the Keishuku-dô Hall, also known as the Ippon-dô Hall, and the stone Tokiwagura Warehouse.

The Keishuku-dô Hall is the oldest building of the temple and the building was offset by a giant Sugi tree that fell on this spot after a typhoon in 1814. The feudal lord of the Matsura clan at that time saw this as destiny and commanded the construction of the hall. The Keishuku-dô Hall is also called Ippon-dô Hall (Ippon meaning one tree in Japanese) because it was constructed using only this one Sugi tree that fell down after the typhoon. To demonstrate the size of the tree (it had a diameter of around 85 centimetres) to later generations a wooden screen was made with a carving of Buddha in it. This screen is located inside the hall.

At one side of the Ippon-dô Hall a small path lined by over 80 stone lanterns leads to the grave of the 35th feudal lord of the Matsura clan, Kanchû Hiromu. You can walk to the Fûkô-ji Temple located next to the Fumon-ji Temple or walk up to the path to the top of Suidake Hill for prayers.

During the Kigatsu Spring Lantern Festival in April all the stone lanterns and hundreds of bamboo lanterns are lit and the cherry blossoms are also lit up. Local fresh food is sold and there are many activities during the day such as tea ceremony or cruises around Kigatsu Bay. Look at the Events section for more details.

Location Hirado Island, Kigatsu Town 1457, 859-5362
Entrance fee free
Contact Hirado Tourism, Commerce and Industrial Division, Tel.: 0950-22-4111

Kômyô-ji Temple and Zuiun-ji Temple

These two temples are mostly famous as part of the view of both temples and a church. This view of the spire and cross of the Hirado Catholic Church in combination with the traditionally Japanese tiled roofs of the two temples has become representative of Hirado as it shows the mixture of Japanese and Western cultures. Though the view is often pictured in tourist brochures it is still likely to impress the viewer as one climbs up the little walking path down from the city centre up to the church. From both temples one can look out over the harbour of Hirado.

Yûkô-ji Temple

According to the `Shunrinzan Yûkô-ji building documents` the Kôgetsu-an Temple was relocated from Oshima in 1695 by the 30th feudal lord of the Matsura clan, Takashi (Yûkô) to its current location and was renamed to Shunrinzan Yûkô-ji Temple.

Just from behind the Kaijô Hotel parking lot, steps lead up all the way from the coast to the temple grounds. From halfway you can look out over the Strait of Hirado. From the outer gate of the temple, a small path leads up to the right where one can find the Kaizan-dô Hall.

The Kaizan-dô Hall is an Important Tangible Cultural Property designated by the prefectural government. Construction of the hall was finished in 1696 on the new grounds of the temple. Constructed with a gabled and hipped roof and a front entrance in addition to being completely covered with a vermilion lacquer, it is regarded as a representative building from the middle Edo Period and conform the formal style of a Zen Buddhism hall.

In the Main Hall a tea ceremony festival is hosted here every year at the end of October.

Location Hirado Island, Okubo Town 2169
Entrance fee free
Access Access is also possible via a right turn off the main road, just passed the Kaijô Hotel

Ikitsuki Daigyoran Kannon Statue

This large Kannon statue is the largest bronze statue in Japan with a height of 18 metres and weighing around 150 ton. It sits on a 3 metre high stone foundation and has a pearl of 2.5 centimetres attached on its brow.

In Japanese Buddhism, Kannon is the Bodhisattva of compassion, and is therefore different from a Buddha as depicted by the famous bronze statues in Nara and Kamakura. The Ikitsuki Daigyoran Kannon prays for world peace and the safety of those that are out on the sea. It also mourns over all shipwrecked people and marine animals.

The bronze statue was completed on April 29, 1980. It looks especially big if observed from close by and one can also go inside the stone foundation where there is a Buddhist altar to pray.

Location Ikitsuki Island, Ikitsuki Town, Yamada-men 570
Entrance fee free
Contact Hirado Tourism, Commerce and Industrial Division, Tel.: 0950-22-4111