Historic site Founded in 1194, Kanno-ji is the oldest temple of the Rinzai Zen sect in Japan. It almost saw its demise but is home to some of the most treasured Buddhist artefacts in existence thanks to the quick thinking of local people in the late 19th century.
Kanno-ji was destroyed in 1886 in a wave of anti-Buddhist sentiment following the establishment of Shintoism as the state religion. Thankfully, though, the Kannon statue was saved. In anticipation of such trouble, believers had dismantled the Buddhist deity of mercy, and buried its pieces in containers underground. When the temple was rebuilt in 1880, the statue was reassembled and restored to the altar.
The Kannon has 11 faces and 1,000 arms, making it rare among Buddhist statues. Made in 1445, it is designated an important cultural property of Kagoshima.
As the temple was established at the request of the Shimazu family when the clan became head of the Satsuma Domain, the graves of the first five feudal lords are on the grounds. Check out the bust of Shimazu Tadahisa, which is made solely from volcanic ash and water.
Enjoy meditation Every Sunday, Kanno-ji temple offers Zazen meditation practice for the public from 8–9am. Go along to find out how to meditate and practice mindfulness in historic, leafy surrounding.