Taisanji is one of the better temples to visit, but it really isn’t very special. The trip to Taisanji will give you a great view of Sensoji as it is located just across the valley. If you are out of shape you may not want to try going here as you do have to go uphill to the temple but it is worth the hike. It is also adjacent to Misode Tenmangu Shrine so it is very difficult at first to know where the shrine ends and the temple starts.
Accessing Taisanji is not very easy if you are coming from the main route. You are actually drawn towards Misode Tenmangu instead and that is where I went. From the base of the mountain just follow the signs and the route map and you should be able to find the main entrance to Misode Tenmangu. The main feature of this is the main gate as well as the crest that is used to cover the stone lanterns. It is really interesting to see them and very memorable.
Once you get to the main hall of Misode Tenmangu, there really isn’t anything special about the buildings. There are a few nice buildings there but after a few minutes you can easily finish and head next door to Taisanji. Taisanji itself is also not very special as most of the buildings are not interesting if you have been to other temples and shrines.
The main point of interest at Taisanji is the statue of monkeys. I was really surprised, and for some weird reason a little giddy, that I saw these monkeys. Everyone knows about the three wise monkeys, “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. In Taisanji, they reversed this with some stone carvings of monkeys looking, listening, and proclaiming. I have no idea why they have this and I couldn’t find any information on this but I found it very intriguing.
The main reason to visit Taisanji and Misode Tenmangu is for the view. As I mentioned at the top, the view was really good. The view isn’t as good as a few of the other temples but it does provide a great view of Sensoji Mountain and the central city below. It is also a great place to go to Saikokuji as the route along the mountain is more interesting than going through the small town at the base.
Taisanji and Misode Tenmangu may not be a major stop for people along the Onomichi Temple Pilgrimage but it is a place that I enjoyed a lot. I am not sure on whether or not you should skip it, but I have no regrets to visit it and would love to visit again; but perhaps I’ll go with a packed lunch to enjoy in the cemeteries behind the temple. It was just so peaceful in that natural landscape and I really can’t explain that peaceful experience.