The statue of Kukai welcomes visitors to Ishite temple Matsuyama.
Credit: Maarten Heerlien
The small tunnel leading to an inner temple.
The temple of Kukai
This was built temple in honor of the monk Kukai, Otherwise Known As Kobo Daishi, the Buddhist monk Most Famous in Japan.
To the west of Matsuyama a strange statue dominates the district of Dogo Onsen, here Kukai directs travelers towards his temple: the Ishite-ji.
The temple, rather large and sparse, offers a few surprises. The entrance is through a path lined with small shops. Religious objects but also oyaki, cakes mochi (rice paste) and grilled red bean paste filled are all available for purchase.
At the end of this alley, the Niomon Gate entrance sets the tone. Classified as a national treasure, it is decorated with two huge rice straw sandals, or waraji, worn by monks and pilgrims. In the courtyard, returning the usual elements of Buddhist temples: a three-story pagoda, a Shoro (containing a bell tower) and a bronze jôkôro to plant incense stick but also some pictures of pilgrims and monks 1930 the 1950 scattered here and there throughout the buildings. Even the main lodge can surprise by its lavish decoration.
But the elements that clash the most are the statues, added one by one over time. Baroque dragon at the entrance, no hidden skeletal Buddha, there are surprises everywhere.
A small door behind the main temple hiding the ultimate oddity of this temple: a gallery carved directly into the mountain which leads to a second inner temple. The most adventurous visitors will discover a succession of wooden statues meant to represent the multiplicity of forms of Buddha.