岩屋観音

Iwaya Kannon - Kannon in the Cave


Useful Information

Location: At the beach near Koboro station 小幌駅.
Reach by train or boat or Road 37, park at the Rebunge tunnel entrance.
(42.585994, 140.540908)
Open: no restrictions.
[2022]
Fee: free.
[2022]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Iwaya Kannon
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1666 Enku stayed at the cave.

Description

岩屋観音 (Iwaya Kannon) is a small sea cave, a single chamber with a diameter of about 8 m and a height of 3 m. The cave is located in the rock face on one side of a beautiful secluded cove on Hokkaido, between the cities 小幌駅 (Rebunge) and Shizukari. It is named after the monk Enku, who is said to have spent time in the cave and carved a Buddha statue, which he enshrined here. Enku was good a carving statues from wood, and he made many statues for poor people for free. He was a travelling monk for decades and traveled on foot throughout Japan, carving approximately 120,000 wooden images of Buddha during his lifetime. It is also called 円空 観音ありや (Enkū kan'non ariya, Enku Kannon Ariya), which means the shrine, not the cave.

円空の観音ありや窟小祠
Enkuu no Kannon ari ya iwa hokora
Enku Kannon Ariyagura Shrine

The cave is very nice and the location is great, but probably not worth the difficult access if you are not alread in the area. The easiest way is probably the access by boat, there is even a jetty in the cove. But there is also the possibility you ride a train the the weird 小幌駅 (Koboro station). The train runs along the steep, mountainous coast mostly in tunnels. Once it leaves the tunnel, there is a station, and then it enters the next tunnel. There are no villages which would make a station useful, there is no road, and no other way to do anything except to wait for the train and continue your ride. But there is a steep foot trail 200 m down to the beach and some people use the train to reach this beach, which faces south, has fine sand and is very secluded. Its name is 文太郎浜 (Buntarohama). And if you are fearless you can follow the trail on the left which leads to the cove with the shrine, its about 350 m. It's also possible to swim the short distance or to walk on the shore during low tide.