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Photo By: PIXTA/papa88
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Okayama
Population
1,950,656

Saidoji Temple

Walk through a path of more than 70 stunning white gates at Saidoji Temple

By Elizabeth Sok

With a long corridor of white torii (gates typically found at Shinto shrines), Saidoji Temple in Okayama Prefecture has recently become a popular spot for people looking to walk the unique feature. Add in stunning seasonal flowers and a long history and this site has lots to offer for friends of flora and Japanese culture.

Temple Background

Saidoji Temple

Photo by: PIXTA/papa88 The temple was reorganized under the Soto sect, the largest of the traditional Zen Buddhism sects.

The origins of Saidoji stretch back more than a thousand years to the Nara period. Two prominent figures in Japanese Buddhism in the eighth century were central to the creation of this temple. Gyoki, also considered the grandfather of Japanese mapmaking, created a hermitage on the site in the 730s. Kobo Daishi, known for founding a new Buddhist sect upon returning from a pilgrimage to China, transformed Gyoki’s hermitage into a proper temple called Saidoji in 811.

According to the legends surrounding the creation of Saidoji, locals asked Kobo Daishi to help with the problem of infant mortality in the area. Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy, was enshrined at the site and Saidojihas been associated with safe childbirth ever since. Centuries later during the Edo period, the temple was reorganized under the Soto sect, the largest of the traditional Zen Buddhism sects.

White Torii Gates

Saidoji Temple

Photo by: PIXTA/papa88 As you walk through the white torii, you’ll be able to look out onto the seasonal blooms.

To bring more attention and to raise funds to help maintain the grounds, in 2021, Saidoji unveiled a corridor of 78 white torii gates measuring about 86 meters in length. The custom of senbon torii (one thousand torii gates) dates back to the Edo period when people believed that helping to fund a gate would bring good luck. This idea was expanded to assume that the more gates that are built, the greater the prosperity. Set against the greenery of the background, the long stretch of white gates makes for a striking contrast for shutterbugs.

Saidoji has many attractions all year round. For flower lovers, make a stop in the early summer to see over 11,000 hydrangeas spread across the mountainside and throughout the surrounding fields. As you walk through the white torii, you’ll be able to look out onto the colorful blooms. Also flowering during this time are more than 5,000 irises and lotus flowers.

Things To Know

HOURS AND FEES

The temple is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free.

How To Get There

Address

By train

From JR Iigura station, you’ll have to take a 30-minute taxi ride to the location. 

By car

Take the Chuo Expressway and get off at the Niimi IC. Follow the signs for the site and arrive in about 25 minutes.


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