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Photo By: Gary Luscombe
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Kanshin-ji Temple

A samurai's head was sent here and buried in a special grave. Discover honor and tradition tucked away in Osaka.

Kanshin-ji Temple in Kawachinagano, southern Osaka Prefecture, is popular among local people for its year-round beauty and unique architecture. It is also home to a grave containing the head of one of Japan’s most respected samurai who led the armies of the Southern Court during the Nanboku-cho civil war of the early 14th century.

Photo by: Gary Luscombe Kanshin-ji Temple is best in autumn.

It is particularly impressive in the fall with a great abundance of momiji (maple) trees. These catch the Autumn sun in just the right way to make for some of the most dramatic and bright colors in the prefecture.

This temple also holds a number of registered national treasures. The most well known of these is its Kondo (main hall), which is built in a unique style that blends Japanese, Chinese and Indian Buddhist architecture.

Ever eaten kushi-age?

The main item of worship at Kanshin-ji is also a registered national treasure. This is a statue called the Nyoirin Kanzeon Bosatsu and is considered to be one of the finest Buddhist statues in Japan. It  dates back to the Heian Period (794 to 1185). Given its importance, the statue is only displayed to the public for two days a year, on April 17-18.

The relatively small grounds are a pleasant place to stroll around and they have a small museum showcasing a number of ancient Buddhist artifacts. Kanshin-ji also offer classes in shakyo (copying Buddhist sutras by hand).

Famous graves

While it was founded some time in the 9th Century, Kanshin-ji’s most active time came 500 years later. The temple grounds were extensively renovated by the renowned samurai, Kusunoki Masashige who was born nearby and studied at the temple in his youth.

He died a heroic, but avoidable death at the Battle of Minatogawa where he led a charge of just a few hundred warriors against several thousand enemies. He was an exceptional strategist and advised the Emperor that this attack would be folly, but it was the Emperor’s will that he fight. After the battle, his head was sent to Kanshin-ji temple and buried in a special grave called a kubi-zuka. Within Japan, he is known as the epitome of samurai devotion to their lord and as such, Kusunoki is the only samurai honored with a statue at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

A post shared by Gary Luscombe (@gary_luscombe) on Dec 29, 2016 at 1:55am PST

At the back of the temple, a long flight of steps ascend into the trees lead to the eerily silent Hinoo-no-misasagi. This is the grave of the Go-Murakami, the 97th Emperor of Japan who led the Southern Court during the Nanboku-cho period that pitted two rival branches of the Imperial Household against each other.

Kanshin-ji temple is a perfect place to visit for both nature and history lovers with a heady mix of plum, cherry blossom and maple trees surrounding many monuments dating back over 1,000 years.


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Things To Know


Entry: ¥300

Language Support

Language support at the temple includes a small English language pamphlet explaining some of it’s history. It’s available for free.

How To Get There


Japan, 〒586-0053 Ōsaka-fu, Kawachinagano-shi, Teramoto, 観心寺

By train


Take the Nankai Koya line from Nankai Namba station and get off at Kawachinagano station. Both local and express trains stop at Kawachinagano. From Kawachinagano station, take a bus from stand 3 (bound for Kobukidai or Mt. Kongo Ropeway) and get off at Kanshin-ji.

Where To Stay

Obana Ryokan Fukitei
  • 1-5 Kikusuicho, Kawachinagano-shi, Osaka, 586-0012 Japan
  • ¥14,800 - ¥29,600
  • 3.67/5 (44 reviews)
  • 2.7 km
Kiimi Onsen Kiimiso
  • 115 Yagurawaki, Hashimoto-shi, Wakayama, 648-0098 Japan
  • ¥12,560 - ¥45,060
  • 7.7 km

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