This historic shrine atop a sacred mountain also plays host to a wide range of events, including a cherry blossom festival and autumn festival
Ishizuchi Shrine consists of four parts, one of which is located atop Mount Ishizuchi, long believed to be a holy mountain (a mountain on which the gods live). The shrine atop the sacred mountain of Mount Ishizuchi was founded 1,300 years ago by a shaman called En-no-Gyoja, and many high priests and ascetics visited it, including Kukai (Kobo Daishi). Moreover, it is a shrine that was valued by the Imperial Court of antiquity, and scrolls inscribed with images of the Buddha or Buddhist scriptures by successive Emperors are kept here.
Even now, climbing Mount Ishizuchi to reach Ishizuchi Shrine is said to be an ascetic practice that subsumes the spirit and enables a person to become one with nature. In addition, the shrine is also the venue for general prayers, marriage ceremonies, events to celebrate the growth of children, New Year celebrations, and ceremonies to ward off evil. Splendid festivals also take place here, including the cherry blossom festival in April and the autumn festival in October.
At the summit is a hut with a small kiosk and rest area, which can be used by both the devout and the general public alike. It is open between May and November 3 only, so please be aware of this when making reservations to visit the area. Moreover, Ishizuchi Jinja Kaikan, located in the grounds of Ishizuchi Shrine, can be used as a rest area and as an accommodation facility for groups of worshippers, as well as being available for use for festivals and other events. The kiosk sells the conch shells that ascetics once used. These conch shells were an important tool, as ascetics would blow them in order to drive out evil spirits, as well as using them to communicate with other ascetics. They cost tens of thousands of yen (at present), so they are a little too expensive to buy as a souvenir, but just looking at them and handling them while thinking back to the ascetics of ancient times will doubtless become one of many happy memories from your trip.
Address: 797 Nishida-ko, Saijo City, Ehime
Directions: (Train) Ishizuchiyama station on the JR Yosan Line (3 hours and 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station). (Car) 20 minutes from Saijo Interchange on the Sanyo Expressway (parking available).