Sazaedo, Aizuwakamatsu: Hours, Address, Sazaedo Reviews: 4/5

Historic Sites • Points of Interest & Landmarks
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9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.

354 reviews
Very good

Funabashi, Japan1,164 contributions
Nov 2017 • Couples
I notice reviews of Sazaedou are mixed. Perhaps a little background history of the shrine is helpful to fully appreciate the uniqueness of Sazaedou. Bosatsu in Buddhism is a monk practicing and preparing to enter into a status of total awareness like Buddha. Because it is so difficult to achieve the same status as Buddha, it is believed that a bosatsu will spread the teaching of Buddha, sympathize with ordinary folk and help guide them to enter heaven. Kannon bosatsu is a particularly benevolent bosatsu that takes thirty three different appearances depending on the person it is helping. Some Kannnonbosatsus have many hands and an eye on each palm. These are called Senju (meaning one thousand hands) Kannon bosatsu. The hands and eyes allow Kannon bosatsu to find out and aid the many in need of help. A pilgrimage routes to visit thirty three Kannon bosatsus in the Kinki area starting from Seigantoji Temple in the Kii pilgrimage route (a World Heritage site) was developed by the twelfth century. Pilgrimage routes to visit thirty three local Kannon bosatsus for those that could not afford to go to Kii were also designated in the Edo era. Sazaedou is an even more compact attempt to pay respect to thirty three Kannon bosatsus. By travelling up and coming down by another slope in the tower one could pay respect to thirty three Kannons displayed there. This was an invention of a Buddhist priest of a now discontinued Buddhist temple in the late eighteenth century. Sadly due to the movement to destroy Buddhist statues in the Meiji days in which Shintou became the national religion of Japan, the Kannons in the Sazaedou were all displaced and the places they were displayed all remain vacant. Sazae is a spiral shellfish and the shrine is so named because of its spiral shape.
Written December 29, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Aizuwakamatsu, Japan55 contributions
Feb 2012 • Friends
This building is a national treasure of Japan. It is a small temple which is built as a wooden tower structure which, essentially, contains solely a double-helix staircase (one of only a few in the world). You pay a ~500 yen entrance fee and may then donate a few yen at the entrance. Then, you can enter this building and go up the double-helix on one staircase, cross over at the highest point to the second staircase and go down, effectively on the roof of the staircase which you used to ascend. There are several crossover points (openings) between the formerly mentioned two staircases in the central axle of the building where kids and smaller adults can squeeze through in-between huge wooden beams. Altogether experiencing the geometry of the building is fun. One hears the steps of other visitors on the wooden planks of the building. There are several works of art in niches along the visitor's way.
Written January 25, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

hfot2 🌸🍁🌸
Vermont6,740 contributions
Apr 2018 • Couples
We saw a photo of the pagoda several years ago and decided then and there that we had to visit this bizarre structure. So on our next trip to Japan, we planned a few days in Aizuwakamatsu to visit the castle again and to see this pagoda.

We took the Aizu Loop Bus here from the castle park. We got off at Iimoriyamashita bus stop and walked uphill toward the shops and hills beyond. Once at the base of the mountain, the escalator up to the pagoda was a welcome sight - it was expensive, but we were tired and running out of time so it seemed like a great way to get up to the pagoda easily. It was.

The pagoda is tucked up against the trees. There is a small ticket booth opposite the entrance. If you only want to see the exterior you can do so, but we highly recommend paying the fee and going inside. Yes, for what it is size-wise it is expensive (¥400), but according to our research it is the only pagoda like this so if you want to see it, pay up and enter.

The spiral staircase (rather more a ramp with slats than stairs) is intriguing and strange - up one side, down the other - one way traffic only - cross over at the top and you won’t see anyone going in the other direction. We had the place to ourselves which was quite wonderful. Completing the passage is supposed to be the equivalent of completing the 33 Kannon Pilgrimage bringing you good fortune.

It’s impossible to describe how wonderfully weird it felt to make this small journey. It has been described as a double helix and that seems just right. I took a video of the experience after I made my first circuit looking at the architecture and the replica Kannon statues and all the many, many diagrams, notes, name cards and personal labels covering almost every inch of the surface of the walls and ceiling. Everybody who has been here apparently wants to leave a marker saying “I was here!”
Written February 23, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

UK70 contributions
Jul 2016
I went primarily to go visit this unusual architecture, a double-helix wooden tower from 19th century. We took a tourist bus from the Aizu Wakamatsu station, and it dropped us off at the foot of this small hill. The walk up to the building was steep, but they do have escalators for those who rather not sweat or without much time. It took about 20 min on foot. The souvenir shops at the foot of the hill will have free umbrellas if it is raining or if the sun is too strong. The tower is really impressive and fascinating. It is worth walking beyond the tower to the grave yards and monuments (Mussolini and the Nazis both donated monuments, still there, to commemorate the spirit of the Shogitai)
Written September 8, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Wollongong429 contributions
Apr 2019 • Couples
The Temple is located about 3.5 km from the CBD, a 15min drive (traffic depending). There is a Car park at the foot of the hill which is referred locally as a small mountain (about 310 meters above sea level). There is a stair case of some 170 stairs (I'm told) or a more inviting escalator that runs adjacent to the stairs (fee). The Aizu Sazaedo is a Buddist temple erected on the hill in 1796. It is 16.5 metre tall and hexagon shaped. It is constructed of timber and has an unusual double helix spiral ramp that takes you up to the top and down again without backtracking any when inside the Temple. Within the Temple there are a number of alcoves with various Buddist images and icons displayed behind a protective screen of 'chicken wire mesh'. The ramp is sloping at about 25 degrees (up and down) with raised timbers put across the ramp to limit slipping The Temple is plastered with Japanese incriptions printed on sheets of paper and stuck to the internal structure of the spiral. There are put here by pilgrims who visit the site. Access to the site is very steep and can be difficult to access the whole site if you have mobility issues.
Written June 23, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ko E
Ashburn, VA252 contributions
May 2018
This ancient structure is unique in that you walk up and come down without every retracing your steps. It's name, is after the shell because it spirals and there are unique little statues all along the way. If you are in Aizu, it's a must see and you should visit it along with the Byakkotai gravesite.
Written July 9, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kempsey, Australia789 contributions
Apr 2018
A quirky and clever piece of wooden architecture. This is a Buddhist temple constructed in a hexagonal shape. Two ramps come up from both the front and rear entrance and are united at the top after making two revolutions. Going up you cannot see anyone going down & vice versa.
To go up to the temple from street level you can either walk up the steep steps or to the right hand side their is an escalator that you can use to take you to the temple level (you have to pay to use the escalator). Don't rush viewing this area & its surrounds as it has some very interesting history relating to the Samurai's. Go up the next lot of steps & there you will find the monuments & tombs honouring 19 young samurai warriors who committed suicide after they saw smoke (thinking it was Tsurunga castle being burnt...this was not the case, the castle survived the attack.).
Written June 8, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Hong Kong, China34 contributions
Jul 2016 • Couples
I agree with a previous poster that while the structure, built in the 1790s, is interesting, it may not be worth the fee to go inside.
The guide book I read said there were hundreds of statues inside - there were not; it was mainly pictures. Just seated monk statues - one at the entrance and one at the exit.
Written August 25, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tokyo, Japan454 contributions
This wooden temple, with its unique spiral ramps (up and down), is surprising and fascinating. Situated on the Iimoriyama hillside mostly associated with the Byakkotai suicides of the Boshin War (1868-69), the 4 story structure was built at the end of the 18th century. In addition to the spiral ramps that give the building its name (Sazaedo means Turban shell), the elaborate dragon carvings adorning the building are worth spending some time on.
Written December 19, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Warner L
Pasadena, CA668 contributions
Oct 2019
I knew through my research that I wanted to visit this and was impressed that a building like this existed let alone you can go in it and climb to the top (a steep ramp) one ramp up - one ramp down. I think it was worth the visit.
Written October 28, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Sazaedo is open:
  • Sun - Sat 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM