Temple 51, Ishiteji

第51番 熊野山 虚空蔵院 石手寺
【History of the temple】
Ishiteji is located near Dogo Hot Spring, which is said to be the oldest hot spring in Japan. The approach to the temple is in the form of a corridor lined with stores selling souvenirs, mostly locally-produced products.

Ishiteji is a well-known temple that attracts local Kobo Daishi followers and tourists in addition to pilgrims. This is probably due to the grandeur of the temple; most of the halls and pagodas are National Treasures and National Important Cultural Properties. The temple also has a museum where temple treasures are always on display, and boasts the largest collection of cultural assets of any of the Shikoku pilgrimage temples. The Niomon Gate is a National Treasure. It is 7 meters high, 4 meters wide, with a 3-meter-wide entry space. It was built in 1318. National Important Cultural Properties include the Hondo, the Kariteimotendo, the Gomado, the three-storied pagoda, the bell tower, a five-ring pagoda, and the oldest bronze bell in Ehime Prefecture. An inscription on the bell says “Third year of Kencho.” (1251)

According to legend, in 728 Ochi Tamasumi, a wealthy man of Iyo (Ehime), had a vistion of 25 bodhisattvas coming down from the sky to this spot. He was convinced that this was a sacred place. He enshrined the 12 Kumano Gongen (gongen are native Japanese gods accepted into Buddhism) and constructed a building for the protection of the nation by order of Emperor Shomu (reigned 724-749). The following year, Gyoki founded the temple with a statue of Yakushi Nyorai (the Medicine Buddha), which he carved himself as the principal image. He named the temple Anyōji. The temple was a member of the Hosso sect of Buddhism. The name of the temple was changed to Ishiteji in 892, based on the legend about the rebirth of Emon Saburo.

The layout of the temple is in the style of the Kamakura period (1185-1333). It is a three-dimensional mandala, common to temples designed at that time. Tiles excavated from the precincts of the temple suggest that Ishiteji was originally constructed around 680 in a style similar to Horyuji, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Nara.

・Nanakorobi Yaoki Genki Ishi (Ups and Downs, Stone of Energy)
・Minna Issho Daibutsu (Great Buddha with Everyone)
・Rakugakido (Graffiti Hall)
・Araiishi (Known as Washing Stone or "bridge without crossing." This is in front of the temple gate, next to the street. A sutra is engraved on the back of the stone.)
・Amitabhado (To the left of the Nioimon gate. Many people pray here for the prevention of senility)
Address 〒790-0852 愛媛県松山市石手二丁目9番21号
Telephone Number 089-977-0870
Business HoursOpen 8am - 5pm
Days Closed for BusinessOpen every day
Price[Treasure house] Adults 200yen, Children (13-18) 150yen, Children (under 12) 100yen
DirectionsFrom the Matsuyama Interchange, take Route 33 to downtown Matsuyama. Turn right at the Tenzan intersection and take Kanjosen, then Route 317. Turn left at the first intersection to reach the temple.
ParkingApproximately 40-50 car parking spaces and 10 coach parking spaces available
Mondays to Fridays: Cars 210yen per hour, Coaches 740yen per hour
Saturdays and Sundays: Cars 260yen per hour, Coaches 1,050yen per hour
Word-of-mouth Reviews (TripAdvisor)
Website Website
RemarksLodging: None