Kawasaki Daishi Heikenji Temple (Kawasaki Daishi Sama) is the headquarters of the Chizan sect of Shingon Buddhism and was founded in 1128. The temple was destroyed during the Pacific War — the current structures are reconstructions of the Heian Period buildings.
Kawasaki Daishi is a popular destination for hatsumode, the first temple visit of the new year. Nearly 3m people visit Kawasaki Daishi for hatsmode each year, making it the third most popular such destination in Japan. In addition, the temple is known as “Yakuyoke No Odaishi-sama” for its rituals devoted to yakuyoke, the warding off of evil.
Kawasaki Daishi lies just a few hundred meters from the western abutment of the eponymous Kawasaki Daishi Bashi (bridge) over the Tamagawa River separating Tokyo from Kanagawa Prefecture, near Haneda at the river’s outlet into Tokyo Bay. Entrance to the temple area is through a vermilion gate which opens onto a marketplace of shops featuring traditional Japanese hard candy, soba and daruma.
The candy makers beat their knives against the cutting board in rhythm to attract customers.
Once past the marketplace, the entrance to the temple is via Dai-Sanmon Gate, housing the traditional dharmapala figures.
As the headquarters of a major Buddhist sect, Kawasaki Daishi often has displays of religious artifacts and artworks. One such artwork on permanent display is the statue “Prayer For Peace”, by Entsubakatsuzō Kōbōdaishi (installed 1984).
Kawasaki Daishi can become very crowded during festivals and hatsumode. On the other hand, it can be surprisingly quiet, even on a weekend when the food stalls are out with the hawkers practicing their English on passers-by. Although at first glance the temple does not appear large, in fact there is a number of halls and facilities, each with its own purpose.