Opening hours: 08:30 - 16:45 from March 1 to November 30, 8:45 - 16:30 from December 1 to February 28
Address: Yu122 Nata-machi, Komatsu, Ishikawa
Post code: 923-0336
Admission: Adults 600 yen, Children 300 yen
Closest station: Awazu or Kaga-onsen
Natadera is a historical Buddhist temple surrounded by magnificent rocky hills and seasonal nature. Established by Master Priest Taicho Houshi in the Nara era, it is located in a suburb of Komatsu city, Ishikawa prefecture, just 30 minutes from Kanazawa city by an express train. Strolling around the temple grounds, you will see an inscription of a Haiku poem composed by the great Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho, and left here when he visited. The Haiku poem is included in his famous “Okuno Hosomichi” (a classic travel diary containing his Haiku poems from a trip around the eastern, Hokuriku, and Chubu regions of Japan). In autumn, Japanese maple trees in the garden turn beautiful shades of yellow and red. People also come to the temple for its New Year celebration, the 7.5.3 festival for children of seven, five, and three years old, a 100-day pilgrimage, and various other memorial services.
Nata-dera Temple Highlights
A number of caves and rocky hills in the grounds of the temple are believed to be cradles, such as the inside of a mother’s womb, where the reincarnated spirit is purified. The Iwaya Honden (Iwaya main hall) was built and enshrined as a place of prayer for people wishing to purify their sins while living. It is said that walking through the dark Iwaya Honden symbolises emerging from the mother’s womb – in other words, you have died once and been born again. You enter the cave to pray in order to purify your sins. Once you emerge, it means that you have been reborn.
Natadera Temple Photo: Ishikawa Prefecture
Natadera was originally established in AD 717. During the Edo era, the 3rd lord of the Kaga domain, Maeda Toshitsune, under an order of former Emperor GoMizunoo, created new buildings including the main hall in a cave, the worship hall, Karamon Gate, the three-story pagoda, Gomadou hall (hall of rite with holy fire), the bell tower, and a study room. In 1941, all of the buildings connected to Toshitsune were listed as national treasures (present-day important cultural properties) and we can still appreciate their history today. Natadera has remained a Buddhist temple for 1300 years and today, its focus is on creating a new religion based on old practices that aims to protect the environment from destruction.
Natadera Temple in autumn Photo: Komatsu City Tourism Association
How to get to Natadera Temple from Kanazawa
Take the Thunderbird or other express trains from Kanazawa to Kaga-onsen and then take the “CAN BUS” sightseeing bus on the Mountain Route to Natadera Temple. It takes 25 minutes from Kanazawa to Kaga-onsen and 35 minutes by bus to Natadera Temple. Please remember that some of the Thunderbird trains do not stop at Kaga-onsen, so please check with a member of staff before boarding a train. JR Passes are valid on the Thunderbird train and other express trains from Kanazawa to Kaga-onsen. A one-day bus pass for CAN BUS (1,000 yen) can be purchased at the information center in Kaga-onsen station. Turn left out of Kaga-onsen station and walk 30 meters until you reach the CAN BUS stop.