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map of Choan Temple

Choan Temple

How to get

Consider two ways, although either is a long walk. [1] One is getting on #2 bus (Minami-sen) and getting off at "Hommake Noh Butai Mae". [2] The other is getting on #3 bus (Higashi-Kaigan-sen) and getting off at "Kawasaki Gakko Mae" bus stop. The big difference is that route#2 buses are many but route#3 buses are a very few.

[1] From "Hommake Noh Butai" of bus route #2 (Minami-sen), walk to the direction of Niibo first. And then turn east at T-junction that is located between Homma's Noh Stage and Ushio Shrine. With gentle upslope for the first 1km and gentle downslope for the next 1km, the road gets down to the river with right and left curves. Go river side upstream, Choan Temple is there.

[2] From "Kawasaki Gakko Mae" of bus route #3 (Higashi Kaigan-sen), walk back to the direction of Ryotsu a little and cross the river. Turn left to the mountain side. You cross another bridge at 200 meter from the first bridge. The difficulty of this route is to find a forked road at the midpoint between Kawasaki and the temple. The forked road starts from the prefectural highway #319 as shown in Photo.84.1. As you walk the forked road deviating from #319, the river is getting closer. Then the road crosses the river at the entrance of the villeage. It is better to cross the bridge and to walk upstream on the left bank for easy access to the temple.

Photo.84.1 Forked Road from #319 to Choan Temple

Cho'an Temple is of Buzan sect of Shingon-shu (Shingon Buddhism). The original initiation of the temple was in 831 as Tenchou temple of Tendai-Buddhism. The establishment as Shingon-Buddhism temple was in 11681). The temple has two national cultural heritages. One is the wooden Amida-Nyorai statute of sitting style, which is thought to be made in late Heian Era (794-1192). The other is so-called "Chosun Bell". The bell's height is 108 centimeters, diameter at the mouth is 62 centimeters, and thickness is 16 centimeters2). Some books say the bell's height is 83 centimeters3). Perhaps the difference comes from the height of hanging part at the top of the bell body.

The Chosun bell is thought to be made in 13 century, the only bell of this kind in Niigata prefecture. Folklore says that this bell was salvaged from the sea of Fukui, and then dedicated to Cho'an temple. Some people felt the sounds of bell ringing like words as if the bell was speaking. For example, some people heard of ringing as "Wanna go to Oowada yakushi" in Kanai area. When Kuji villeage people rang the bell, it sounded like saying "Wanna go to Cho'an in Kuji". Another folklore is that this bell is female. The male counterpart bell is sinking at the river bed of Kokuu river at Yahata in Sawata. The king dragon does not want to give the male bell to anyone, so the male bell will never come out.

The female bell, or the bell of Cho'an temple, was once taken out by the Chief priest of Shinkou Temple of Sawata when Uesugi Kagekatsu from Echigo attacked Sado in 1589. After the Meiji restoration in 1867, the bell was returned to Cho'an Temple4).

The first thing you will see when you visit the temple is that Ni'oh gate of Buddhism temple and Torii gate of Shinto shrine are standing side by side as shown in Photo.84.2. This is a typical arrangement of a mixture of Buddhism and Shintoism. Not only on Sado, but also all over Japan, a Buddhism temple and a Shinto shrine had been built in the same area5). After the Meiji restoration in 1867, many Buddhism temples were destroyed by the radical movement of "Abolishing Buddhism and Dumping Gotama Shiddharta" that is explained in the page of Haguro shrine.

Photo.84.2 Gates of Temple and Shrine in Choan Temple

Photo.84.3 The Main Building of Choan Temple