Hidetoshi Nakata travels around Fukushima <#04> Arriving in Fukushima “History”

Hidetoshi Nakata travels around Fukushima <#04>
Arriving in Fukushima “History”

“Entsusansoudo” is an Important Cultural Property located halfway up Mount Iimori in Aizu Wakamatsu. It is fondly called “Aizu Sazaedo” and is a 3-story, hexagon shaped wooden hall. It was built in 1796 by Shosoji Temple to deify “Saigoku Sanjusansho”. Walking around the shrine is said to have the same benefits as visiting the 33 sacred locations.
※“Saigoku Sanjusansho” refers to 33 locations deemed sacred in the Buddhist faith that are located in the Kinki region and Gifu prefecture. The pilgrimage has the oldest history, and visiting the Guan Yin at each location is said to erase all of your sins from your current life, allowing you to enter paradise.

Unique and Unusual – the secret of Aizu Sazaedo

Nakata first visited Aizu Sazaedo 6 years ago, and he was quite taken by the very unique architecture and the ambience of time standing still.
“It’s amazing that one loop around the stairwell allows you to see everything in the hall.”
Masanori Iimori, the head of the hall, nodded in agreement as he shared details about the history and background of the hall.

There are many Buddhist Temples called “Sazaedo”, the origin of which is said to date back to 1728 with Rakanji Temple in Tokyo (former Edo). Since then, most of them were built during the latter part of the Edo period in areas north of Kanto, but only a few remain. They are characterized by a spiral staircase or corridor which makes 3 clockwise rotations.
However, the architectural style of Aizu Sazaedo is quite different. Not only is the hexagon exterior unique, Aizu Sazaedo is the only hall with two spiral staircases which separate those ascending and descending. Nakata shares a question on hearing this fact.

“Where do you think the idea for this configuration came from?”
Iimori shared two theories.
For generations, the Iimori family believed that Ikudo who came up with the idea for Aizu Sazaedo dreamed of a dual paper string or “koyori” which led to the concept. On the other hand, there is also a theory that the two spiral staircase of the Château de Chambord in France, which is said to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci, was the inspiration for Aizu Sazaedo.
“Some experts say that Ikudo saw a sketch of the Château de Chambord which was passed on to the Akita clan after western literature became available in 1720.”

Ascending the clockwise staircase, and crossing the bridge at the top, the staircase travels counterclockwise. The exit brings you to the back of the building. Iimori smiles at the puzzled expression on the visitors’ faces, commenting that first-time visitors are always surprised. During the Edo period when the entire Iimori mountain was part of the temple’s property, the mountain provided respite to many with its spring flowers, summer excursions, prayer at Sazaedo and visits to the graves in the shared cemetery. It was also a symbol of faith.
“Mount Iimori is often associated with Boshin War but this is also the historical site of a tomb.”
Their discussion of history carries on, and Nakata is keen to learn of a historical site called Sakudari Kannon in Aizu Misatomachi. He is not daunted on learning that it is somewhat difficult to get to.
“Locations that are less accessible are rarely visited and often have unexpected discoveries. The value of traveling lies in making new discoveries, you know.”


Aizu Sazaedo
155 Takizawa, Yahata, Ikki-machi, Aizuwakamatsu-shi, Fukushima
URL https://www.aizukanko.com/spot/138