Date: 29th June 2018
It was pouring when I arrived at Choanji, so I had to take a shelter at the temizuya (手水舎), which explains why there was no one around. But even after the rain stopped, there were only few tourists, though none foreign.
Choanji (長安寺) is a temple of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism built in 1356, located in Sengokuhara in Hakone, near to the Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Field. I was here in summer, but this place is best visited in autumn as you can make this a combined trip to the pampas grass field. There were a lot of maple trees, albeit green now, so it would definitely be beautiful in autumn – reportedly at its best around early to mid November.
Choanji is famous for its Gohyaku Rakan (500 disciples of Buddha) statues, which you will start seeing even before entering the main temple grounds.
Most of the rakan statues are found around the hills on the left of the main building, all the way to the cemetery at the back. It was fun to see each of this rakan statue, all with different expressions, some serious and some amusing. It reminded me of Otagi Nenbutsuji in Kyoto, which also had rakan statues with humorous expressions.
- Free admission
- No closing days, always open
The nearest bus stop is the Sengoku (仙石) bus stop, which is accessible via the Hakone Tozan Bus or the Izu Hakone Bus.
- From Gora Station towards Gotemba Premium Outlets Kanko shisetsu-meguri Bus (Via Miyagino), 12 minutes, 420 yen
- From Gora Station towards Shissei-Kaen-mae Kanko shisetsu-meguri Bus (Via Kozuka-rindo), 20 minutes, 420 yen
- From Hakone-Yumoto Station towards Togendai, 25 minutes 750 yen
- Others: You can use Google Maps or the Hakone Tozan Bus website which has a route search in English
If you are using Google Maps to walk to this temple from the Sengoku bus stop, please be assured that the first temple you see (probably best to remember that entrance picture) is actually the temple. Google Maps wanted to take me past the temple.