A Shingon Buddhist temple, Ishiteji, stands as a three-story pagoda, and the temple gate is registered as a national treasure. Observe pilgrims on their Shikoku pilgrimage, see statues, and enter dark, incense-smoked mist. You can also hit a gong and check on a chart with your birth year to see how your year will turn out. The mysterious mantra-cave and inner sanctuary at the back of the temple are popular, as are ridge-top statues of Kannon and a collection of carved erotic images and a golden mandala. The site is a 20-minute walk from the nearby town, or a short taxi ride. See Ishiteji and all Matsuyama has to offer by arranging your trip with our Matsuyama trip planning tool.
I came in from the east side and came across lots of stone statues. It’s a bit of a mess in that end with cardboard boxes and everything looking a bit ill-kept. Lots of caves and strong smell of... more »
I like visiting temples and shrines in Japan and by now have seen hundreds, and the reviews for this one made me very interested to visit. It is a 'strange' shrine and much of it looks very neglected.... more »
Sprawling and surreal. Make sure to explore the caves and temples behind the main complex. Many bizarre photo opportunities.
Walking to Ishiteji from Dogo Onsen (up the stairs to Isaniwa shrine and then from the back parking lot of Isaniwa) is the best way to experience this temple (which is temple 51 of 88 on the Henro pilgrimage). We took a detour through the bamboo forest which led us to a creepy abandoned structures in the woods and made for a spectacularly eerie adventure (on a hiking trail that has not been well-maintained and was difficult to follow). When we emerged (at a cemetery) and continued down the road, we reached the inner temple which consisted of a giant golden dome and a haunting statue of an emaciated Buddha. Across the street, hidden behind a giant rock, was the entrance to the cave leading to Ishiteji. If we hadn't known to look out for this cave entrance, it's possible we would have walked right by. We walked through the cave, which was narrow, dank, and dimly lit, and stretched for about 200 metres (not recommended for claustrophobes). What a cool little experience! Once we arrived at Ishiteji, we explored the area a bit. It was peaceful and serene, nothing out of the ordinary and what you would expect for a Shinto shrine in Japan. I did notice that there were thousands of origami chains draped near the structures of the shrine made up of tens of thousands of tiny and colourful origami pieces - very impressive and I can't even imagine how long it took to make all of these. Behind the main building, there was a trail leading to the top of the hill and which should not be missed. If you take it all the way to the top, you can get a breathtaking 360 degree view of Matsuyama. This temple is definitely worth the visit, especially if you walk around and explore all of what surrounds it!
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