Sazae-do is famous for its unique internal structure. The corridor spirals up and down, letting the visitors go through from the entrance to the exit without going to the same place twice. This spiral structure resembles the shape of a turban shell. A turban shell is called “sazae” in Japanese. Therefore this building is called Sazae-do. “Do” means building.
The building is considered an important cultural asset by Gunma Prefecture. Along the spiral corridor, the 100 Kannons “the Goddesses of Mercy” are lined up. The first 34 Kannons are from Chichibu, the western part of Saitama Prefecture; the next 33 are from Bandou, Kanto area’s old name; the last 33 are from the western part of Japan.
Sazae-do is built of wood and is almost a square structure. It is 16.3 meters by 16.3 meters and about 16.8 meters high. The front faces east.
Sazae-do is the main building of Sogen-ji （“ji” means temple）. The origin of Sogen-ji goes back to 1187, when Yoshishige Nitta, the founder of Nitta clan, built this temple in memory of his daughter-in-law.
In Japan, there are three Sazae-do temples, but this is the biggest of the three. The others are in Saitama and Fukuoka prefecture. This temple is also known for one of the 7 Gods of Fortune and for the God of Safety, Hoteison, who is enshrined here. The garden, which has 100 hydrangeas, the same number of Kannons, is very popular in late June when the flowers bloom.