Tucked away in the mountains to the west of Hotaka, lays the impressive temple of Manganji. In order to truly appreciate this temple, you have to climb to reach it. Before you start your ascent to the temple itself, you must cross a mountain stream upon a beautifully carved wooden bridge. The bridge was built to symbolize the crossing over from one world to another. At the foot of the stone path are bamboo walking sticks, which travelers can use upon their journey up the approximately 170 steps through the forest to reach the temple itself.
Upon reaching the temple grounds, you will discover an enormous bronze bell, which you may ring once in order to send your wish to the gods. There also is a beautiful garden, with a small babbling brook running through it. The garden is well-known for its azalea blossoms in spring, and is a popular picnic spot with the locals.
The temple building itself is usually open to allow visitors the opportunity to enter. Inside the temple, you will find large traditional Buddhist paintings of both heaven and hell upon the wall. A local friend told me that when she was young, these glimpses of hell gave her nightmares for several nights. The beautiful Manganji Temple provides a unique and interesting glimpse into Japanese culture.
- By car: 20 min from JR Hotaka Station, and 25 min from the Azumino Interchange. Approximately 10-15 min walking from the parking lot to the temple itself.
- 1812 Hotakamaki