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Temple 62, Hōju-ji

The Temple of Wealth and Happiness

Temple 62, Hōju-ji

Hōju-ji is temple No. 62 on the Shikoku pilgrimage, or Henro. Its name means the Temple of Wealth and Happiness which is ironic because Hōju-ji is a poor, run-down little temple in a decaying part of Saijō, sandwiched between the JR Yosan railway line and busy Route 11.

What to see

The Main Hall of the temple has an elegant tiled roof, but the building has an abandoned look about it. The Daishi Hall presents a fine sight with its gable decorations. There’s a stone Kannon statue in an unusual, rather droll style. It was donated by believers from Nagoya in 1893 in the Meiji period.

History

Hōju-ji was originally associated with the Ochi clan, and later Kōno clan, the maritime clans that dominated the Seto Inland Sea. It was their family temple, and a branch of Ōyamazumi Shrine on Ōmishima Island. Kūkai stayed here for a long time, carving a statue in the image of Emperor Shōmu’s wife, Empress Kōmei. He also performed a ceremony for the wife of one of the Ochi governors, who was experiencing a difficult childbirth. She soon gave birth to a son.

The temple flourished as a branch of Ōyamazumi Shrine until 1585 when it was destroyed in Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s conquest of Shikoku. It was rebuilt near its present location in 1636. In the early Meiji period, the temple was abandoned with the abolition of Buddhism. But in 1877, it was revived at a location further south, then in 1921, it was moved further south again due to the construction of the railway.

Given the half-dilapidated state of Hōju-ji and its unfortunate location, we recommend that you give it the miss, unless you’ve committed yourself to visiting all of the 88 temples.

Information

Name in Japanese: 宝寿寺

Pronunciation: hōju-ji

Address: 428 Shinyashiki, Komatsu, Saijo, Ehime 799-1101

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