Ishiteji, meaning “temple of stone hand,” is a large temple to the northeast of Matsuyama city center near the Dogo Hot Spring. It is number 51 of the 88 Sacred Temple Pilgrimage. In Shikoku, you will come across many pilgrims (“o-henro-san”) dressed in white making their way to the 88 temples scattered around the island of Shikoku. This 1200-km pilgrimage is carried out to honor Kobo Daishi, the most important religious figure in Japan. Kobo Daishi was born in Shikoku in 774 and said to have visited all of the 88 temples in his lifetime. “O-henro-san” believe that Kobo Daishi is walking along side with them while completing their symbolic journey. Others take on the pilgrimage as a personal challenge and a way to see the rural scenery of Shikoku. Built in 728, Ishiteji is best known for its main hall, Hondo, the three-storied pagoda and the Niomon Gate which are designated National Treasure and Important Cultural Properties. Most of the structures on its ground exhibit the architecture style of the Kamakura period. There is a darkly lit tunnel inside the Ishiteji where visitors can go inside to see the place filled with statues and carvings. These statues represent the 88 temples of Shikoku and it is believed that touching these statues, you will be given the same blessing as if you would have done the real pilgrimage journey.
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Address: 2-9-21 Ishite, Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture
Transportation: 20-30min. wallk from Dogo Hot Spring. Just walk along the street of Shiki Memorial Museum in the southeast direction. Or, from Matsuyama-shi station, take tram line 3 (15min., 150 yen)
Hours: Treasure House 8:00 AM -5:00 PM
(Ishiteji Temple is always open)
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September / 2010