Nestled in Mount Iimori, one of the world’s most unusual buildings ”Aizu Sazaedo”

Nestled in Mount Iimori, one of the world's most unusual buildings
”Aizu Sazaedo”

A helix shaped hall

216 years ago in 1796, Aizu Sazaedo was built on Mount Iimori in Aizuwakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture. The official name is Entsusansoudo, and was designed by a monk named Ikudo, who was the chief priest at Shosoji temple in Mount Iimori. Western Thirty Three Kannon statues are enshrined at Aizu Sazaedo, and the hall was built for people to worship the Thirty Three Kannons when they are not able to visit the Kannon statue in western Japan.
The building is a wooden, double helix structure, something that is not found anywhere else in the world. There are no stairs. You reach the top by walking along the wooden corridor. You take a different corridor to get back to the ground level. What’s interesting is that there are separate corridors for going up and coming down. This type of structure is called a double helix. This took Nakata by surprise. The double helix allows visitors to worship safely without passing each other.

Was the double helix idea inspired by Da Vinci!?

Who thought of this structure, double helix? It was a question that came to mind as Nakata stepped into the hall. Masanori Iimori the owner who showed us around, told us about how Leonardo Da Vinci had already built a staircase with the same configuration.

What was more surprising was that there was a theory that the idea for Aizu Sazaedo might have actually come from a drawing by Da Vinci. It is said that the architect might have seen a sketch owned by an Aizu clan lord.

In addition, according to a story that has been passed on in Iimori’s family, a dream of making a ”koyori” with two strings may have been an inspiration. The truth is not known, but either way, there are no other examples of this structure in the world. In 1996, the building was designated as the country’s Important Cultural Property.

Mount Iimori, the land where Byakkotai committed suicide.

Aizu Sazaedo is located in Mount Iimori. Originally, all of Mount Iimori used to be the property of Aizu Sazaedo. Mount Iimori is known to many as the location where ”Byakkotai” commited suicide. As we were guided through Mount Iimori, we heard the story about the ”Byakkotai”.
During Boshin War, the Aizu clan fought with government forces. As the number of Aizu clan soldiers decreased, young boys were recruited to fight as well. The government forces had state-of-the-art facilities. The young boys who were able to escape the attacks by fleeing to Mount Iimori were able to see Wakamatsu castle (Tsuruga castle) from the top of the mountain. They saw that the castle was engulfed in flames. The young boys discussed their options. They could fight and die, return to the burning castle, or commit suicide and share the fate of their lord. They chose suicide.
”20 were able to flee from the battle, and 19 died. The one survivor told the tale.” We listened intently to Iimori, who spoke quietly.
At Mount Iimori, there was a memorial for the ”Byakkotai” soldiers who committed suicide. Presently, you have a view of the peaceful and soothing landscape from Mount Iimori. One cannot help wondering what the soldiers had seen.


Aizu Sazaedo/Iimori Honten Inc.
55 Takizawa Yahata Ikki-machi Aizuwakamatsu-City Fukushima