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Temple 84, Yashima-ji

The Temple of the Roof Island

Temple 84, Yashima-ji

Yashima-ji is temple No. 84 on the Shikoku pilgrimage. It occupies a large compound on the dramatic flat-topped island of Yashima to the east of Takamatsu. The compound includes buildings dated at various periods, from the Kamakura to the current era. The Main Hall was built in the Kamakura era at the beginning of the 14th century and the bell in the belfry also dates from the Kamakura.

The temple is believed to have been founded by the Chinese monk, Ganjin in 754 during the Nara period. Kukai converted it to the Shingon sect in 815 when he moved it to its present location. He also carved the main image of the temple, the Thousand Armed Kannon.

Yashima-ji is associated with the Battle of Yashima between the Minamoto and Taira clans in 1185. The Taira were defeated in the naval battle fought in the bay below the mountain. The Treasure House with its distinctive traditional-modern style holds relics of the battle, as well as treasures including folding screens, calligraphic scrolls and Buddhist images.

The large stone tanuki images are unmissable. The tanuki is a mainstay of Japanese folklore, believed to be able to change its shape and play tricks on the wicked and unsuspecting. The story goes that when Kukai came to Yashima, it was swathed in a thick mist. An old man wearing a raincoat and hat made of straw appeared and led Kukai to his destination. Of course the man was really a shape-shifting tanuki, sent by the Buddhist deity Senju Kannon to assist Kukai in his pious mission.

Information

Name in Japanese: 屋島寺

Pronunciation: yashimaji

Address: 1808 Yashima Higashimachi, Takamatsu, Kagawa 761-0111

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