Temple 84: Yashima

Name: Yashima

Some Information: This is the site of a major battle between the Heike (also known as Taira) and Genji (also known as Miyamoto) clans in the 12th century. The battles between these two clans is documented, but mostly in poetry, in “The Tale of the Heike”. This is a very long, and very beautiful collection of poems (passed down for years through song) which praises, in equal measure, both sides of this historical struggle between these two clans.

Interesting Features: This temple has a number of buildings and is located at the top of a mountain, actually a flattened lava formation, and looks out over the sea. Stunning and picturesque. When here you can see the “snow garden”, the old battle site, and there is also a museum which has relics from the battle of the Genji and Heike clans.

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The striking red gates of Yashima.
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The official explanation of the temple grounds.
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Lovely stone lantern.

When coming up to this temple we feel a little different than the one before. Here there is a sense of the modern, but still keeping a framework around the ancient. It is very interesting to see how Japan as a modern country will keep its ancient relics and treasures important for future generations. We see some combination of that here.

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We can see how the old statue is now outfitted with modern stone and pedestal.
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Not as rustic as other temples, we are encouraged to stay on the path.
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The stones are even and smooth here. On top of a plateau you can smell the sea from here.

Yashima also feels different because it has such an “open space” atmosphere to it. Walking on the top of this plateau gives that feeling. Quite a good number of visitors coming here to see the sites and to walk on the grounds.

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This modern piece was quite eye-catching. Lovely.
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Wide open spaces. A bell tower with a 12th century bell within.
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This temple ground is particularly well groomed and maintained.

Peeking around the side of this temple to the left you can see a mini forest of statues and monuments. Despite being more modern, there is still much traditional usage of the grounds, often hidden or tucked away.

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I spotted this interesting roofing piece within: elephant face, Indian in origin perhaps?
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Myou: the face to frighten one to enlightenment.
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The Yashima Badger, a deity for fruitful childbearing and monogamy.

Walking through this area, you cannot help but to think about the raging battle that took place here centuries ago. The war between the Heike and Genji clans was tearing the nation apart. Eventually thwarted, the Heike clan was defeated, but at great cost to the nation. So how could healing and peace begin anew? Part of that was done through literature, and poetry. We read in the Tale of the Heike many accounts of brave samurai, on both sides of the war, and special men who were “worth a thousand”. By praising each side of the war for valiant action and fearlessness, healing and mutuality could be restored to two sides of a war that lost many. One side was not humiliated in defeat. Both lost much and some kind of understanding that life needs to move forward was needed. From that, and from seeing virtue in the lives of one’s enemies, peace can be born and grow.

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While there are a number of new buildings, this one stands out as a voice of the past.
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You can see the thousand-armed Kannon here.
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Here is the entrance to the museum.

There is almost too much to see here in one day. If you can, take the time to visit the museum, and get out to a place where you can see the islands of the Seto Sea stretch out before you.

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Beautifully intricate corner pieces.
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A more modern assemblage of torii. 
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The badgers of Yashima. Standing guard. 

A lovely open-spaced temple on the plateau looking out over the sea. I don’t know what more you could ask for on a lovely January afternoon. Come out here in the summertime too, if you can. The wind from the water is particularly cooling and the atmosphere is calm and inspiring.