The 84th temple on the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage, Yashima Temple is a national treasure that is affiliated with the Shingon school of Buddhism and is notable for its Heian era (794 – 1185) statue of the thousand-armed seated statue of the Goddess of Mercy.
The founding of the temple is attributed to a Chinese monk who would have arrived in Japan during the Tang Dynasty, which coincided with the Nara and Heian periods in Japan. It is important to note that this was a time when there was an extremely active cultural exchange between the two countries.
Traditional accounts put the establishment of the temple in the mid 8th century, which was an epoch when Buddhist teachings were gaining ground throughout Japan.
Located in on a nearly 300 meter high table top mountain in the formerly independent town of Yashima in Takamatsu City, Yashima Temple has several unique features.
Firstly, due to its position on Mt. Yashima, the most common means of access was by the cable car that ran up the mountainside. Unfortunately, this service was discontinued in 2007. You can still make it to the top via the Yashima Driveway summit dedicated road by car or bus. This provides the added bonus of a wonderful view of the Seto Inland Sea and the surrounding town.
Another point about Yashima Temple is that there is a mix of architectural styles visible in the structures within the complex. While most of the buildings display the earth tones commonly seen in Japanese temples, there are a few halls which stand out due to their color scheme of orange and vermilion.
The main hall is a massive structure with a weathered look that adds a tremendous amount of character and reveals its age relative to the other buildings within the compound.
As with so many temples throughout Japan, Yashima Temple has elements of the Shinto spiritual system on its grounds. There are fiery vermilion gates which form an entrance corridor and indicate the co-existence of gods and Buddha on this site.
Access: Take the Kotohira Dentetsu Train Line to Katamoto Station.
About the Area
Takamatsu City is the commercial center of Shikoku and has a urban feel that is befitting to the title. Its lovely boulevards and well-developed port area create an ambiance that is truly cosmopolitan.
Must-see spots for visitors include, Ritsurin Garden, Takamatsu Castle, the central shopping arcade and the port area art installations.
Yakuri Station is the entry point to the Yashima district of Takamatsu City, which is well-known for its temple near the summit of the unique and iconic table top-shaped Mt. Yashima. The vista from the mountain is highly-prized and well worth the effort to get there. However, to best appreciate its entire shape, the view from Sunport Takamatsu Symbol Tower is recommended.
Yashima is notable for its eateries, many of which serve the renowned local specialty, udon noodles.
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