Maegami-ji is temple No. 64 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. The temple is located in the foothills of Mt. Ishizuchi, the highest mountain in western Japan. The temple was founded in 678 by En no Gyoja who was pursuing ascetic training on the summit of the mountain. The buildings take the architectural form of a Shinto shrine, reflecting the influence of the Shinto on Buddhism in Japan. Kukai is said to have spent 21 days on the top of Mt. Ishizuchi performing a fire ritual. Mt. Ishizuchi dominates the scenery of Saijo. Maegami-ji Temple stands in a valley between the foothills of Ishizuchi. The mountain itself is revered as a god, and Maegami-ji means “the temple in front of the god”. Buddhism and Shinto have been closely interrelated over the centuries, and in layout of the grounds and architectural appearance of its main hall, this temple has a lot in common with Shinto shrines.
- ©John Lander
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