Step into the Escheresque world
of an impossible spiral tower

Sazae-do (Buddhist Hall)

Walking up and down Sazaedo in an Escheresque loop.

Sazae-do (Buddhist Hall)

Hidden away in the forest atop Mt. Iimori lies a mysterious tower. Shaped like a curling double helix, the three-story Buddhist temple stands almost 17 meters high, keeping quiet vigil over the mountain since 1796.

Named “Sazae-do” for its resemblance to a turban shell—“sazae” in Japanese—it is a truly unusual temple, not only in appearance, but also because of its curious construction. The tower has no stairs. The wooden floorboards of the corridors gradually ascend like a ramp. A wholly separate spiraling corridor leads back to ground level, the two paths never meeting. In the past, pilgrims paid homage to Buddhist statues placed along the passageways as they climbed clockwise up the spiraling structure. For common folk unable to travel far from home, Sazae-do was an inviting, familiar place to worship and contemplate hidden mysteries. The puzzle of Sazae-do’s cleverly crafted double helix corridors are the result of a melding of ancient carpentry techniques with the playful spirit of the Tohoku region. The floorboards creak with each step as the unbroken slope of the spiral staircase creates the illusion of an endless circle—the enigmatic tower transporting pilgrims into the upside-down world of an Escher painting.

Sazae-do
1404 Yahata-Bentenshita, Ikki Town, Aizu-Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture 965-0003
+81 242 22 3163
http://www.tif.ne.jp/lang/en/sightseeing/topic.html?id=319&category=2
Open hours:
8:15 – Sunset, 9:00 – 16:00 (January – March)
Access:
About 5 minutes on foot from Iimori Yamashita Bus Stop
Unique building that you can experience wooden double spiral structure on rare occasions by yourself.
Entrance fee: adults are 400 yen each.