Kannon-in Temple

Kannon-in Temple 観音院

Kannon-in Temple is a Buddhist temple in Tottori city, famous for its natural-style landscaped garden at the rear, dating from the 17th century.

Statues of Kannon Goddess of Mercy, Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City.
Kannon (Goddess of Mercy) figures in Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City
Garden & Pond, Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City.
Garden & Pond, Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City

History

Kannon-in's roots are in the 1630s, when a member of the Ikeda clan - which already ruled Okayama domain down south on the Pacific coast - was appointed by the Shogun to be ruler of Tottori domain, on the Japan Sea coast. A priest from Okayama was sent to found a temple in Tottori, dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, or Kannon.

Kannon-in Temple main hall, Tottori City.
Main Hall of Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City
Kannon-in Temple main hall, Tottori City.
View of the Garden at Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City

Garden

Kannon-in's reputation rests on its beautiful grounds, specifically its landscaped garden dating from shortly after the time the temple was founded. The garden is dominated by a pond, with rocks artfully placed in it, and surrounded by lawn and trees. The naturalness is an illusion that was a full ten years in the making. Unlike many gardens in Japan which are for strolling through, this garden is designed to be appreciated from a set vantage point: the temple balcony.

The garden is most probably an example of nature following art, in that it is believed to have been inspired by landscapes typically depicted in the Kano school of Japanese-style ink painting that became dominant in Japan about a century before Kannon-in was established.

Entering and viewing the grounds in front of the temple is free, but a 600 yen fee is charged to view the garden, ameliorated by the visitor being served a cup of green tea. The garden is not large, just over one tenth of a hectare (one-third of an acre).

Admission to Kannon-in Temple includes Japanese tea and sweet.
Admission to Kannon-in Temple includes Japanese tea and sweet
The Ryugujo-mon Gate to the grounds of Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City.
Ryugujo-mon Gate, Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City

Ryugujo-mon Gate

The unique roofed entranceway to the temple is known as the Ryugujo-mon, or "Dragon Palace Gate," for what is seen as its similarity to the fabled undersea palace of the Dragon God of the Sea.

The pathway leading up to the temple is also picturesque, especially in the cherry blossom season.

Kannon-in follows the Tendai tradition of Buddhism.

Entrance path to Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City.
Name post and entrance path to Kannon-in Temple, Tottori City, lined with sakura cherry trees
Kannon-in is part of the Chugoku 33 Kannon pilgrimage.
Kannon-in is part of the Chugoku 33 Kannon pilgrimage

Access

Take the Red Route of the 100 yen Kururi bus from Tottori Station and alight at Nakamachi bus stop. About a 4 minute walk to Kannon-in.

From Tottori Station, it takes about 20 minutes to walk to Kannon-in.

162 Uemachi Tachikawacho, Tottori-shi, Tottori-ken 680-0015

The stone lantern base was used by hidden christians to disguise a cross.
The stone lantern base was used by hidden Christians to disguise a cross
Kannon-in.
Kannon-in Temple Garden

Nearby Kannon-in Temple

Kotokuji Temple with its quite different, but some would say equally beautiful, grounds is right in front of Kannon-in, and is completely free to view.

Kannon-in.
Kannon-in Temple Garden

Japan Guide Books

Goods From Japan to your home or business.