Makayaji Temple

Makayaji Temple 摩訶耶寺

Located on the western shores of Lake Hamana (Hamanako), close to Makkabi near Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture, is the hidden gem of a Kamakura Period temple and garden - Makayaji Temple.

Makayaji Temple is worth the 1,000-plus yen taxi fare or 20-minute walk from Makkabi Station to see its Heian-era style garden, three important religious sculptures and it's painted ceiling.

Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
Makayaji Temple showing the Heian Period garden and pond, Mikkabi, Shizuoka

History of Makayaji Temple

Makayaji Temple dates from the early Kamakura Period (1192-1333) of Japanese history and the interior of the temple contains two Important National Treasures and one Important Cultural Property of Shizuoka Prefecture.

As you remove your shoes and enter the temple's main hall (honden) look up at the painted wooden ceiling made from zelkova wood with designs of mythical creatures from the Buddhist pantheon. This room also includes a wooden image of Kobo Daishi (aka Kukai 774–835), the founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism and a series of small statues of the ten Buddhist kings, who oversee the underworld in Buddhist mythology (there are in fact 12 of them here).

Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan.
Makayaji Temple painted ceiling, Mikkabi, Shizuoka
Senju Kannon Heian Period Buddhist statue, Shizuoka.
Senju Kannon "Thousand Arm Kannon", Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka

To your left in a small anteroom are the three Buddhist statues and the main treasures of Makayaji Temple.

The central, seated Buddhist image is classified as an Important Cultural Property of Shizuoka Prefecture and not a National Treasure as the wooden backing to the statue is of a later date to the main figure which is believed to date from the Heian Period (794-1192).

The seated Buddha is flanked by a standing image of a "thousand-armed" image of Kannon (Senju Kannon; Avalokitesvara) dating from the middle Heian Period or so-called Fujiwara era and another standing image of the guardian deity Fudo Myo-o (Acala) complete with raised sword with the handle carved as a vajra, thick eyebrows and a fearsome expression. This statue is carved from a single piece of wood and note how the artist has skillfully used the grain of the wood at the elbows and chest of the statue. The image of Kannon was most likely painted after it was carved, though now only traces of red paint can be seen on the lips.

Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka, Japan.
Statue of Fudo Myo-o (Acala), Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka
Seated Buddha image, Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka.
Seated Buddha image, Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka

Makayaji Temple Garden

After seeing the interior of Makayagi Temple walk out to admire the Heian-era style garden with central pond, artificial hills and lovely groupings of stones. The garden can be enjoyed throughout Japan's seasons and includes plum trees, winter hazel and magnolia in late winter and early spring, Yoshino cherry trees in spring, water-lilies and hydrangeas in the summer.

Garden and pond, Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka.
Garden & Pond, Makayaji Temple, Shizuoka

Getting to Makayaji Temple

Makayaji Temple
421 Mikkabi Makaya
Shizuoka Prefecture
Tel: 053 525 0027
Hours: 9am-4.30pm
Closed: August 10
Admission: 300 yen

Take a JR Tokaido Line train from Hamamatsu or Toyohashi to Shinjohara and then change to a Tenryu Hamanako Line train to Mikkabi Station, itself an historic, wooden structure dating from the Taisho Period and home to Granny's Cafe. A taxi takes about 10 minutes to Makayaji or enjoy the 20-minute stroll, which leads through a short road tunnel past a pleasant shrine.

By road Mikayaji Temple is 15 minutes from Mikkabi IC on the Tomei Expressway.

Makayaji Temple, Mikkabi, Hamanako, Shizuoka, Japan.
Makayaji Temple, Mikkabi, Hamanako, Shizuoka

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