↑ Return to Fukuoka

Sasaguri-machi

At a glance

A pilgrimage town nestled in the mountains about 20 minutes east of Hakata, famed for its big bronze Buddha

Home to the Fukuoka Prefecture Education Center, which plays host to the Fukuoka JET Skills Development Conference every November

For more information go to http://www.town.sasaguri.fukuoka.jp/ (Japanese)

Getting there

By train…

– Sasaguri Station on the JR Fukuhoku-Yutaka line; from Hakata platform 8 (270, 20 minutes)

By bus…

– #310 from stop 19A outside the Central Post Office in Tenjin, every half hour (350, 35 minutes); #31 doesn’t use the expressway (520, 50 minutes); for the Education Center get off at Sasaguri Kamimachi (two stops after Sasaguri)

Points of interest

Create Sasaguri, the town community center, has plenty of information and leaflets on shrines, temples and events.

getting there…

Take the pedestrian overpass from JR Sasaguri Station. Closed Mon. Tel 092- 948-2222.

Hasamiiwa is a double rock formation located right at the top of Wakasugi Mountain, which overlooks Sasaguri town. Historically only a zennin or virtuous person could pass through the narrow gap between the two rock faces. Now there are metal chains to help the less virtuous through so anybody can do it! It isn’t a big challenge, but it’s still a nice area ornamented with statues of the Buddha and steps leading up to other shrines in the forest.

getting there…

From the station it takes 15 minutes to drive up the mountain; on foot it’s a good two-hour hike. At the top, follow the signs pointing to Hasamiiwa or ask at the shrine or shop.

Kanaide (Juichimen) Kanondou  Also known as temple number 27, this is reached by an easy stroll along a mountain road. This was once the second home of a local mayor and is considered one of Sasaguri’s masterpieces. At the top there is a small waterfall and some statues.

getting there…

From the station turn left onto Route 60, walk for ten or 15 minutes, then turn left onto Route 92 (Kamimachi). Stay on Route 92, cross Route 201 and keep walking up the winding road for ten minutes or so. The shrine will be on your left, opposite shrine number 87 (Koshoin). If you have a car there are many more shrines to explore further up this winding mountain road.

Nanzoin (the reclining Buddha) One of the biggest bronze statues in the world. According to the locals, the man who built the Buddha won the lottery and wanted to leave something behind for posterity. In addition to the big guy himself, there are scores of tiny Buddha statues all with individually sculpted faces, modeled after patrons. You can walk inside the Buddha for 500 and see sand from each of the 88 shrines in Sasaguri, so essentially you will have “visited” them all. Write your wish on a wooden stick and feed it to the Buddha’s bones as you stand in the heart of the Buddha. For a kitsch souvenir, you can get a purikura of your face superimposed on the Buddha’s body. The adjoining temple is also worth a visit.

getting there…

By car, Nanzoin is accessible from Route 201 (not the by-pass) about 2km outside Sasaguri heading towards Iizuka. By train, get off at Kido Nanzoin-mae Station.

Shrines are plentiful in Sasaguri, which is one of Japan’s designated holy sites. If you are interested in seeing all 88 shrines, the full circuit takes three days and you can go alone or as part of a tour group. Pick up a brochure cataloguing the shrines from the tiny tourist information box outside Sasaguri Station (Mon-Sat 9am-3pm). Some of the shrines are within walking distance of the station, but the pilgrimage route on foot is quite a trek. Although it may somewhat detract from the holiness of your journey, it is much quicker and easier by car.

eating and drinking

Uokichi This great izakaya serves the usual sashimi, sushi and agemono, as well as nabe in winter. The owners are very welcoming and enamored with Hawaii so their restaurant has a life-size cardboard hula girl as well as numerous Hawaiian shirts and palm trees. From Sasaguri Station turn right, walk 100 meters and the restaurant is on your left. Look for the Christmas lights outside. Tel 092-947-7739.

Yumeya serves western and Japanese cuisine at a medium price. The service is great, the people are friendly and the food is absolutely delicious. Walk straight out of the Sasaguri Station, past the Lawson. Cross the main road, go one block, turn left, walk one more block and you will see it on your left. Closed Mon. Tel 092- 947-3137.

Jizo Tofu This is a gem if you happen to be in Sasaguri at lunchtime. They serve a fantastic lunch set along with their fresh, handmade udon and soba. Even vegetarians can find something to eat here. If you are heading towards the Yakiyama Bypass from Sasaguri on Route 201, cross Route 92 about 1km from Sasaguri town and the restaurant is on the right-hand side next to 7- Eleven. Lunch only. Tel 092-948-1225.