A short 20-minute train ride from Osaka, Kawanishi City in Hyogo Prefecture has long been associated with Seiwa Genji, the powerful clan that laid the foundations of Japan’s samurai society.
Many famous warlords emerged from this clan, which traces its ancestry to the 56th Emperor Seiwa. Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199), the founder of the Kamakura shogunate, and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616), the founder of the Edo shogunate, are famous descendants of the Seiwa Genji clan.
The connection between Seiwa Genji and Kawanishi City began when 10th-century military commander Minamoto no Mitsunaka moved to the Tada Basin in Kawanishi.
Let’s explore Tada Shrine and Manganji Temple in the birthplace of Seiwa Genji, Kawanishi City, both of which have strong ties to this historic group.
Founded in 970 AD, the grand Tada Shrine has an illustrious history. The five great figures of the Seiwa Genji are enshrined here. Known as “Seiwa Genji Goko,” these include Minamoto no Yoritomo and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Including the Main Hall and Worship Hall, the vast shrine grounds hold many treasures designated as Important Cultural Properties by both prefecture and nation. The shrine is adored by the local community as a source of spiritual strength and a place to pray for family prosperity, victory, and protection from evil.
This time, I rented a car to visit Tada Shrine.
After passing through the idyllic countryside, the shrine came into sight at the top of a small hill. Since it was January, a lot of visitors had come for the traditional New Year’s visit known as hatsumode. It impressed me that many groups came in baseball uniforms.
Tada Shrine is said to bring good luck for victory, so perhaps upcoming matches were in their prayers this year.
First, I came to pay my respects to the deity at the Worship Hall.
Prayers were being held here, and I could hear the sacred words from the Shinto priest and the sound of bells. The Main Hall is deeper inside, and although entry is forbidden, we can still peer into the chamber.
In addition to the Main Hall, there are several other halls on the grounds, each enshrining a different god and each with a different appearance.
The grounds of Tada Shrine are tranquil, and time flows by slowly.
The area is surrounded by forest, so the air is clear.
Manganji Temple also has ties to Seiwa Genji. It was founded in the first half of the 8th century and Minamoto no Mitsunaka made the temple his base in the mid-Heian period (970s) and it has flourished ever since as a place of prayer for the Genji clan, remaining popular today for its legendary power to make wishes come true.
During the 20-minute drive from Tada Shrine to Manganji Temple, I passed through the urban area to the mountainside. Manganji Temple is also set amid peaceful scenery.
The main gate of Manganji Temple and the path to the temple are built in a Chinese style, an impressive sight rarely found in Japanese shrines and temples.
To the west of the long path is a garden of short senju-zakura cherry trees, and to the east is the Shoin Garden, famous for its satsuki azaleas. Springtime visitors are rewarded with a breathtaking view as they approach the temple.
The Kannon-do Hall houses a statue of the deity Senju Kannon Bodhisattva. It is open to the public only for one week every year, before and after the spring equinox period (mid to late March) when it can be viewed together with the Nirami Ryu ceiling mural.
To the east of the Main Hall is the grave of Sakata no Kintoki. He was called “Kintaro” when he was young and became legendary in Japanese folk tales as a child who had great powers. Nearby is a large stone, and I wondered if he once tried to lift it. My mind drifted to thoughts of “Kintaro-san.”
Manganji Temple has the quiet atmosphere of an ancient temple. Each season offers its own charm, so it’s a good idea to check seasonal attractions before visiting.
A hiking course from Manganji Temple to Tada Shrine (60 minutes) passes through the woodlands and foothills. Walking this path will lead you through both residential areas and the pastoral areas known in Japan as “satoyama.”
To enjoy the wider Hokusetsu region, a car (rental) would be the best way, but for a leisurely walk through nature, hiking may be the way to go.
Address: 1-1 Tadadokoro-cho, Tadain, Kawanishi City
Access: 15-minute walk from Nose Electric Railway Tada Station or from Hankyu Kawanishi Noseguchi Station, take the Hankyu Bus to Tada Jinja-mae stop and walk 2 minutes.
Address: 7-1 Manganji-cho, Kawanishi City
Access: From Hankyu Hibarigaoka-Hanayashiki Station, take the Hankyu Bus to Manganji-mae stop.
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〈Access to Tada Shrine〉
15-minute walk from Nose Electric Railway Tada Station or from Hankyu Kawanishi Noseguchi Station, take the Hankyu Bus to Tada Jinja-mae stop and walk 2 minutes.
〈Access to Manganji Temple〉
From Hankyu Hibarigaoka-Hanayashiki Station, take the Hankyu Bus to Manganji-mae stop.