Date: 21st November 2018
In my post on Yashima Sanjo, I mentioned that the plateau is also home to Yashima-ji (屋島寺), a Shingon-sect of Buddhism temple, which is also the 84th temple of the Shikoku 88-Temples Pilgrimage. The temple was originally built by Ganjin (Jianzhen), the Chinese monk who founded the Risshu school of Nara Buddhism, back in year 754 during the Nara period. In 815 the temple was converted to Shingon Buddhism by the founder of Shingon Buddhism himself, Kukai (Kobo Daishi).
The Hondo (Main Hall) which is easily identified by its iromaya-zukuri roof dates back to the Kamakura period. The main object of worship in Yashima-ji is a wooden statue of a seated Senju-Kannon (Thousand-Armed Kannon) dating back to the Heian period and said to be carved by Kukai.
Next to the main hall is a peculiar sight of two tanuki (racoon dog) stone statues, which are images of Minoyama Daimyojin, or the Yashima-no-hage Tanuki. The Yashima-no-hage Tanuki is one of the 3 famous tanuki of Japan alongside Danzaburou-danuki of Sado and Shibaemon-tanuki of Awaji. Minoyama Daimyojin is said to bring good fortune to families, marriages and the nighttime entertainment business. It was said that when Kukai was establishing the temples in Shikoku, he was lost amidst the thick mist of Yashima when Yashima-no-hage Tanuki, disguised as an old man wearing a straw rain cloak appeared and led Kukai to the top of the mountain.
There is a temple museum or treasure hall here as well, housing Buddhist temple treasures and relics from the Battle of Yashima, one of the final battles of the Genpei War fought between the Minamoto and Taira clans which took place on Yashima Sanjo itself.
Admission to the temple is free.
The temple is always open but the driveway is only open from 06:30 to 22:00.
Treasure Hall Opening Hours: 09:00 – 17:00
Treasure Hall Admission Fee: 500 yen
Kotoden operates an hourly (frequency is increased during weekend) bus that goes all the way to the summit. You can board the bus from JR Yashima Station, Kotoden Yashima Station, or even Shikoku Mura. Timetable is here and it costs only 100 yen.
How to get to JR Yashima Station:
- From Takamatsu Station, take JR Kotoku Line (16 mins, 220 yen)
- From Tokushima Station, take JR Kotoku Line (2 hours, 1,280 yen). The Limited Express JR Uzushio will cut down the travel time from Tokushima by an hour, but would cost 2,980 yen.
How to get to Kotoden-Yashima Station:
- From Kotoden Kawaramachi Station, take the Kotoden Shido line (15 mins, 240 yen)