Temple 60, Yokomineji

第60番札所 石鈇山 福智院 横峰寺
【History of the temple】
Ishizuchi, the highest mountain in western Japan (1982 meters elevation), is a sacred site of mountain worship and a center of Shugendo (mountain asceticism). Kobo Daishi says he engaged in Buddhist training here in his book Sankyo Shiiki, written when he was 24 years old. "At one time, I went to Ishizuchi and practiced asceticism on this mountain." The temple grounds are located on the northern part of the mountain at 750 meters. It is the third highest point in the Shikoku Pilgrimage and the most difficult place for henro korogashi, which literally means pilgrims tumbling down. This refers to steep sections where it is easy to slip and fall. A paved road up the mountain was completed in 1954, so now visitors can drive to a parking lot which is 500 meters from the temple. However, the road is closed from late December to the end of February. Large buses are not allowed on this road.

According to legend, in 651, while En no Gyoja was doing ascetic training in the Hoshigamori forest on Ishizuchi Mountain, the god Zao Gongen appeared near the summit of the mountain. En carved an image of the god into a rhododendron tree, built a small hall, and enshrined the image within the building. That is said to be the origin of the temple. During the Enryaku era (782-806), a hermit called Kokusen Sennin lived at the temple and is said to have healed Emperor Kanmu (781-806) of a brain disease, and thus received the title of Bosatsu (bodhisattva).

Kobo Daishi conducted a Hoshi Matsuri (Purifying fire ritual) at this temple during the Daido period (806-810) to pray for good luck and to ward off bad luck. At that time, he also sensed the presence of Zao Gongen, so he built a hall and made it a sacred site. In 1909 the temple was restored with the help of a group of believers.

The Hondo is built in the Gongen-zukuri style. The principal image is a seated statue of Dainichi Nyorai (Mahāvairocana) carved by Kobo Daishi. A gilt bronze statue of Zao Gongen from the Heian period (794-1185) is also enshrined. Both have been designated as Important Cultural Properties by the prefecture.
・Kobo Daishi
This statue is located at the left front of the Hondo. He is holding a sword in his right hand and a scroll of Hoshiku in his left.

・Rhododendron bushes are planted all along the mountainside from the Hondo to the the Daishido. They are covered with bright, light red flowers starting in early May.
・Hoshigamori: This is a scenic spot about 600 meters from the temple gate. It is a place of worship for the sacred mountain Ishizuchi.

【Annual Events】
・Hoshi Matsuri (Purifying fire ritual): February 3
・Hana Matsuri (Buddha’s Birthday): April 8th of lunar calendar
Address 愛媛県西条市小松町石鎚甲2253
Telephone Number 0897-59-0142
DirectionsFrom the Iyo-Komatsu Interchange, take Route 11 toward Saijo City. After passing the Himi intersection, turn right onto Prefectural Route 142 and then turn right at the Yokomine Tozanguchi bus stop. You must drive up a long, narrow, windy road to reach the parking lot. A path leads 500 meters through the forest to the temple.