Enjoy cherry blossom viewing and the good old Osaka at the cherry blossom spot “Nozaki Kannon”
Do you know Jigenji Temple, commonly known as “Nozaki Kannon”, in Daito City, Osaka Prefecture? It is well-known nationwide for rakugo “Nozaki Mairi” and Shoji Taro’s “Nozaki Kouta”, but it is also a temple that has been loved by the people of Osaka since ancient times and makes you feel the history. Nozaki Kannon is also famous as a cherry blossom spot, where you can enjoy cherry blossom viewing while visiting the temple. I live in Daito City and I will introduce the cherry blossom viewing spots of Nozaki Kannon along with the history and charm of the temple.
What is Nozaki Kanno
Nozaki Kannon is a Zen temple called Jigenji Temple, located in Nozaki, Daito City, Osaka Prefecture. It is called “Nozaki Kannon” because it enshrines the Kannon-sama (Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva), which is the main deity of the temple.
It is also known as a temple with a deep history, as it is said to have been founded in the Tenpyo-shoho era (749-757) about 1300 years ago. The benefits are matchmaking, safe delivery, pregnancy, good luck, and warding off evil.
Nozaki Kannon is located at the foot of Iimoriyama, and the main hall is located at the top of a long stone staircase with more than 100 steps. Iimoriyama has several popular hiking courses for hikers, so many hikers visit Nozaki Kannon.
Nozaki Kannon, which is located in a place rich in nature, is famous as a “cherry blossom spot” in Osaka Prefecture, as cherry blossoms decorate the temple in spring.
Introduce the cherry blossom viewing spots of Nozaki Kannon
There are about 200 Somei Yoshino cherry trees planted in the precincts of Nozaki Kannon, and you can enjoy cherry blossom viewing in spring when they bloom beautifully.
Here are five recommended cherry blossom viewing spots.
＊Cherry blossom viewing spots＊
①Cherry Blossom tunnel
Cherry blossoms are in full bloom on both sides of the long stone staircase leading to the main hall, and it is famous as a “cherry blossom tunnel”. Enjoy the cherry blossoms while being careful not to step off the stone stairs.
②Cherry blossoms and Hirano ward of Osaka over the gate
You can enjoy a panoramic view of the Hirano ward of Osaka from the precincts of Nozaki Kannon, but in spring you can also enjoy a wonderful view with cherry blossoms.
- Cherry blossoms and Hirano Ward of Osaka over the gate
- The view from the entrance side to the precincts
③Cherry blossoms surrounding the main hall
The cherry blossoms that bloom around the main hall are a perfect photo spot. You can visit the temple while enjoying the arrival of spring.
④Cherry blossoms seen from the south gate
On the south side of the precincts, there is a stone staircase that leads down immediately behind the gate. There are also many cherry blossoms here, and the view from inside the gate is very beautiful.
⑤Pond and cherry blossoms with a rich atmosphere
There is a pond with carp swimming in the precincts, and there are weeping cherry blossoms on the side. You can enjoy the sound of water and the beautiful scenery.
This weeping cherry tree was in full bloom a little early.
These are the cherry blossom viewing spots that I recommend. Please visit the temple when it is the best time to see the cherry blossoms.
From here, I will introduce you to the interesting history and charm of Nozaki Kannon.
The more you know, the more interesting Nozaki Kannon is
Nozaki Kannon is also famous for the “Nozaki Mairi”, a traditional event that has been held since the Edo period.
●What is Nozaki Mairi
Nozaki Mairi is a Buddhist service held every year from May 1st to 8th, where sutras are chanted to thank all things, whether they are related or not.
About 200 stalls line the approach and are crowded.
Unfortunately, there were no stalls in 2022 when I moved to Daito City due to the corona disaster, but the opening was held on a smaller scale.
You can learn about this Nozaki Mairi in Shoji Taro’s “Nozaki Kouta” and the rakugo “Nozaki Mairi”.
●Nozaki Kannon and the good old Osaka learned in the song of in “Nozaki Kouta”
Nozaki Kannon became nationally known as the stage of Shoji Taro’s “Nozaki Kouta”, a folk song that was popular in the early Showa period.
However, I was born in the Heisei era and did not know “Nozaki Kouta”. I became interested in “Nozaki Kouta” after moving to Daito City and looked it up. Then I found an interesting “good old Osaka” and I will introduce it.
✳︎Lyrics: “Nozaki Kouta” (excerpt from the first verse)
Take a sightseeing boat to visit Nozaki, in every direction, surrounded by fields of blooming rapeseed flowers.
Everywhere you look, there are fields of vibrant yellow rapeseed flowers.
Even butterflies are attracted to the stylish parasols being used.
I wonder if I should call over the people on the riverbank.
※“Nozaki Kouta” consists of 3 verses.
１．In the Edo period, did people visit Nozaki Kannon by Yakatabune boats? “Nozaki Kouta” starts with the phrase “Take a sightseeing boat to visit Nozaki, in every direction, surrounded by fields of blooming rapeseed flowers.” from the first to the third verse. This means that in the Edo period, Nozaki Mairi, which used Yakatabune boats to visit Nozaki Kannon, became popular, and the song depicts the scenery and customs of the Edo period. What I’m curious about here is, “Did the river flow in front of Nozaki Kannon at that time?” When I looked it up, it turned out that there was a waterway that ran from Osaka city to around JR Nozaki station.
・The route to Nozaki Kannon by boat
From Yakenoya Hama (near Tenjinbashi today) near Osaka Castle, they went up Neyagawa by boat, got off at Suminodou Hama (near JR Suminodou station today), and walked from there, or headed to Kannon Hama (near JR Nozaki station today) first and then changed to a Tabune.
・The history of Nozaki Mairi and the waterway
The Yamato River, which flows around Kashiwara City in Osaka Prefecture today, is artificial, and until the early Edo period, it seems that it flowed from south to north in a complex way through the Hirano ward of Osaka(in a wide area from Ishikawa to Yodogawa today).
However, in the middle of the Edo period (the first year of Houei: 1708), the Yamato River was relocated for prevention of flood and new land development, and moved to its current position.
As a result, the old Yamato River area was developed as new land, and waterways and wharfs were established for water transportation. Around JR Nozaki station today, there was “Kannon Hama” and a waterway called “Nozaki Iro”.
Because of this, Nozaki Mairi became popular because people could visit Nozaki Kannon from Osaka city without walking much, and it became a recreation for Osaka people for a day trip.
２．Did people enjoy quarreling on the way to Nozaki Mairi?
The first verse of “Nozaki Kouta” sings “Yonde miyou ka totte no hito”. “Totte no hito” refers to people who walk along the embankment along the river and aim for Nozaki Kannon.
The route to Nozaki Kannon was parallel to the waterway and the embankment, and there was a custom of verbal quarreling called “Furiuri Kenka” between the passengers on the Yakatabune boats going along Neyagawa and the people walking along the embankment, where they teased or insulted each other. “Yonde miyou ka” expresses this “Furiuri Kenka”.
・What is Furiuri Kenka?
“Furiuri Kenka” means to pick a fight with anyone regardless of who they are, and there was a superstition that if you win a fight, you can get a year’s luck, and it was a specialty of Nozaki Mairi in the Edo period. However, there seems to have been an implicit rule that it was only a verbal quarrel and that you should not throw stones or get angry. This “Furiuri Kenka” also became the subject of rakugo “Nozaki Mairi”, and you can see that Osaka people enjoyed saying sarcasm to each other.
It’s more interesting if you think that the custom of “Furiuri Kenka” was influenced by the temperament of merchant of Osaka, isn’t it?
●The current scenery of “Nozaki Mairi”
The location where “Kannon Hama”, the destination of the old “Nozaki Iro”, used to be JR Nozaki station nowadays.
By knowing “Nozaki Kouta”, you can learn about Nozaki Mairi in the Edo period and enjoy imagining what it was like at that time.
However, the waterway where the Yakatabune used to run is gone now, and unfortunately you can’t see the scenery of Nozaki Mairi at that time. Nozaki Mairi where people took Yakatabune to get there gradually lost its popularity from the middle of the Meiji era, and the Yakatabune disappeared in the Showa era.
This is a map of the area around JR Nozaki station today, but there is no waterway from that time.
・Lost its popularity due to the emergence of railways
The predecessor of the current JR Katamachi Line, the “Naniwa Railway”, opened in 1895 (Meiji 28) as a pilgrimage railway to Nozaki Mairi and Shijonawate Shrine, and gradually people began to use the railway.
Furthermore, in the Taisho era, the Daikitetsu Railway (now the Kintetsu Nara Line) opened and pilgrimages to Hyotan-yama, Ishikiri, Ikoma, and Nara became popular, and relatively Nozaki Kannon’s popularity declined.
In the Showa era, when the railway was electrified, people stopped using boats more and more, and the boats for “Nozaki Mairi” disappeared.
Near JR Nozaki Station, there is a stone monument of “Kannonhama”. The “Origin of Kannonhama” is written on it, so please take a look when you pass by.
・Nozaki Mairi, remained as a “city attraction”
The scenery of Nozaki Mairi by Yakatabune is depicted on the manhole cover of Daito City as a “city attraction”.
The homepage of Daito City introduces it as follows.
“The manhole cover of Daito City is ‘Nozaki Mairi’. It may be hard to tell without colors, unlike the photos, but this is quoted from the illustration of Niwa Tokei in ‘Kawachi Meisho Zue’ Volume 6 by Akisato Ritō, published in 1801 (Kyowa 1). The season is spring, and the scene of people on the boats and land quarreling with each other on the way to Nozaki Mairi is depicted.”
(Quoted from Daito City homepage)
You can see the image of “Furiuri Quarrel” of Nozaki Mairi from the manhole cover as well.
Also, the manhole cover on the approach to Nozaki Kannon is the only one that is colorful as shown in the illustration (according to the research result by the author). Please check out the manhole cover when you visit Nozaki Mairi.
Nozaki Kannon, famous for its benefits for women.
Nozaki Kannon is revered by many people, but especially by women who are said to receive benefits from it.
One of the reasons is that there is a Buddha called “Eguchi no Kimi” enshrined in the “Temple of the Eguchi Courtesan” on the right side of the main hall.
●Who is “Eguchi no Kimi”?
“Eguchi no Kimi” is a general term for courtesans who lived in Eguchi (now Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka City) in Settsu Province from the Heian to Kamakura periods. It also refers to the courtesan “Tae” who is said to have had a song dialogue with Saigyo Hoshi in the Noh play “Eguchi”.
Eguchi no Kimi-sama is said to protect all women who suffer from matchmaking, safe delivery, pregnancy, and gynecological diseases. Therefore, especially on the 14th of every month, which is her death anniversary, many women visit to worship her.
I also worshipped Eguchi no Kimi-sama before giving birth as a prayer for safe delivery. I was able to give birth to a healthy baby safely, but I think it was thanks to the Buddha who watched over me.
If you are interested in the benefits for women, please visit Eguchi no Kimi-sama as well.
How was it? Nozaki Kannon, famous for its cherry blossom spots and “Nozaki Mairi”, is a wonderful temple with plenty of attractions.
Experience the history of Osaka at Nozaki Kannon. Please consider visiting during the cherry blossom viewing season or during the "Nozaki-mairi" in May.