Belltower and Gate at Enmyoji - temple No. 53 on the Shikoku pilgrimage. The temple has tile sculptures on the roofs of its buildings with Wheel of Dharma features prominently as a motif. The first point of interest is the Nio guardians in the gatehouse with fierce eyes made of translucent yellow material that rather make them look like aliens. Near the graves, there is a vaguely crucifix stone, carved with a figure who is said to be Mary, mother of Jesus. Christianity was forbidden in Japan from the 1600s, but there were many hidden Christians in Shikoku. The location of the temple has changed over the centuries. Between 668 and 749, Gyoki visited the area and built a temple around it. The temple he built was close to the sea where the temple's Okunoin is today. He called the temple Enmyo-ji. Kukai designated the temple as number fifty-three. The local Kono clan, whose ancestors were pirates, were benefactors of the temple. The temple burned down on several occasions, and the site was often in ruins until the Suga, a powerful local family moved the temple to its current site in the early 1600s.
- ©John Lander
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