Originally founded by Gyoki in 726 and expanded by Kukai during early 9th century, the temple has been one of the most respected religious places in Suruga province. It was originally located at the west slope of Mount Kyozuka and even had five-storied pagoda, but it was destroyed by Shingen Takeda during late 16th century. Later Shingen moved the temple to present place in 1570. Since then the newer temple has been protected by Imagawa clan, Tokugawa shoguns. The temple now is usually quiet with the exception of annual fair held during late Fubruary. During three-day fair there are huge number of visitors from outside of Fujieda city. It also belongs to the temple network sharing the same name or kanjis, Kiyomizudera-Seizanji network including a world heritage site Kyoto's Kiyomizu temple.
Okabe-juku is the twenty-first lodging station of Tokaido Highway located between #20 Mariko and #22 Fujieda. Okabe area is often associated with Utsunoya Pass which is what we may call "open-air museum of changing highway tracks". In Utsunoya the bordering pass between Shizuoka and Okabe you can trace five different highway roads from ancient to modern turnpike. In lodging station area there are some of the historical places of interest. The biggest draw is Ohatago Kashibaya Inn which shows how the inn about 200 years ago might have been using the life-size dolls. Other sites include Sho'ouin temple, Sugatami-no-hashi Bridge with Ono-no-Komachi(the legendary beauty about 1,000 years ago) legend, and Gochi Nyorai, two sets of five-jizo statues.
Also see Okabe Travel Page for detailed information.
Kuroinu Shrine in Kiganji Temple enshrines the ledendary undefeated sacred black dog named Kuro which is said to have been one of the wolves sent from Harunosan Daikoji (Kiganji started as a shugendo(Buddhism-Shinto hybrid) temple in 8th century so the temple also had shrines). About 200 years ago when Tanaka castle was ruled by Honda clans, the lord of Tanaka castle challenged Kuro against his white dog. Kuro defeated the lord's dog but that angered the lord and he ordered his men to behead the black dog. Kuro outran the pursuers but he was finally cornered at the old well of the temple. He had to throw himself into the well. Then with eery shrieks, the sky darkened with black clouds and came thousands of wolves from Harunosan. Lord of Tanaka castle then felt ashamed of what he has done to the sacred dog and made a shrine to appease the dog's soul. Today the figure of Kuro is surrounded by the figurines of cute doggies including those of Peanut's Snoopy donated from the visitors all over Japan. People who visit the shrine pray for winning the games, and for his/her pet's health.
Seven Falls of Shirafuji is located close to housing complex area north-eastern part of Fujieda. Hanashi area of Fujieda still has the good old rural landscape. Shirafuji has a number of waterfalls most of them are fainty and the highest fall, Shirafuji Fall is only 33 meters in height. Yet the area still has the deep mountain atmosphere. And the slippery rocks around the falls still block the human approach. The first fall you will see is 3-m high Okonaino Taki(Gyoja Fall). Small but nicely shaped. After about five minutes of mountain path, you will get to the largest of watarfalls Shirafuji and Kannon waterfalls, 33m and 15m in height respectively. About 20 minutes from the Shirafuji waterfall, you will find a small shrine with magnificent views. Not all of the waterfalls can be easily approachable and to get some waterfalls you might hack the bushes during summer.
Satoyama Trail, #20 Hiking Trail of Fujieda, is another nice walking trail that goes through the rustic areas of Okabe town. It starts from Gochinyorai Park where the tourist information office is located. The trail has some nice lookouts and visits some nice temples. It takes about 2 hours starting from Gochinyorai and back.
Founded in 726, this once-a-huge-temple was recently brought to attention by the Kuroinu Shrine, enshrining a legendary black dog who had been undefeated. Other interesting artifacts include "Onikakiishi", or the Demon's Grinding Stone.
In 8th century, Japanese Imperial Court set up the law and order system based upon Tang Dysnasty system in China. Under the system called RITSURYO, regional or county offices are built throughout Japan. While most of 600 gunga remains in Japan has been lost because of postwar urban development, Shida Gunga escaped such fate by having been buried under the rice paddy field until recently. Just like Heijokyo Remains in Nara, some of the buildings are rebuilt and the rest indicate only skeletal structure.
"Momiji" or Japanese maple is one of the most popular autumn foliage features in Japan. And at this park about five minutes walk from acala statues of Takinoya Fudo Gorge, you can enjoy the great views of maples as well as unique statues created by Takashi Sugimura, an artist and a Fujieda resident.
About three kilometers north of Takizawa hamlet, there is a gorge of Takinoya Fudo. This gorge is so named because of Fodo Myo-Ou Bosatu(Acala statue) in the center of the gorge area, also popular for Autumn foliage views. To get the better view of Acala statue and stone carved Buddha statue recently finished in 1989, you have to get down to the bottom of the river with mossy slippery rock. It seems out of the question to get across the river full of water to visit the acala statue.
Takizawa, located northwestern part of Fujieda-city is a hamlet boasting more than 1,000 years of history. This area thrived because it was by-pass highway for Tokaido highway often disrupted because of natural disasters such as flood, earthquakes and so. It served as a resting place before challenging Hinoki Pass about 400 meters in elevation. Takizawa shrine possesses cultural heritage of once-thriving area. Now this area is popular for hiking destinations including Hinoki Pass hike, Mt. Bodai, Mt. Kasabari and Mt. Takao hike. Also Fudo gorge is popular for autumn leaves views.
Honmaru is a main and the most important part of the castle often located at the center. The main enclosure of Tanaka castle had a two-storied watch tower now in the villa garden, and a palace called Shimizu Goten. But there was no keep like Kakegawa or Hamamatsu Castle. The former honmaru enclosure has currently been occupied by Nishimashizu Elementary School and no castle buildings remain. But you can see reduced size of Tanaka Castle based on old sketches and drawings. This miniature has one big mistake, there never was a keep.
In 2008 another turtle stone was found and returned to the Villa of Tanaka Castle. When the villa garden was opened the turtle stone of the garden is said to be the stone on photo #1. Let me call this turtle stone #1. It is located on the top of tsukiyama, or artificial mountain of the garden. Another turtle stone had been possesion of a local resident and finally the stone was returned in 2008 to the place it belongs. This turtle stone (let me call this turtle stone #2) hardly look like a turtle at all. It looks more like a bull or hippo reposing at the riverside. Then looking from particular direction it surely looks like a turtle. The position of this stone may have a zen teaching behind it. Things may look different from person to person or from different perspectives.
During summer, Villa of Tanaka Castle is full of life. The reconstructured garden has some historical buildings many of which related to Tanaka Castle. It is really popular in plum blossom season in late February to early March but summer garden has its own appeal as well.
Kurata is the northernmost hamlet of Fujieda about 400 meters in elevation. It is made up of only 82 houses but it has some nice places to visit around there.
Utoge Fall: 70 meters high waterfall is said to be one of the great waterfalls in Tokai area.
Mt. Takane: The highest mountains in Fujieda. Takane Hakusan Shrine near the summit has ancient Heian period dances.
Kurata is also an entrance for the hiking trails for Kawane and Kunobi, Shizuoka.
Rengejiike Park is one of the most popular parks in Shizuoka area. It is a huge park surrounding a reservoir pond made in 1613. The park is best known by the huge slide chute as long as 100 meters long. The park is also a great place to see the flowers from Spring to Autumn. Starting from March plum season, cherry in early April, wisteria in May, Iris Sanguinea in late May and June. Lotus in July and August. Riding foot-pedaled boats is one of the popular activities in the park. The park also has a museum, various playsets for children and has a nice lookout called Fujimidaira.