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Photo By: PIXTA/ Yama
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Ichibata Yakushi

By Laura Payne

Founded over 1,000 years ago, Ichibata Yakushi is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Shimane Prefecture. It’s a pilgrimage site and a popular autumn leaf viewing destination among other claims to fame, making it a must-see for culture and nature lovers. Whenever you visit, there is always something to see, do or learn here.

History and Pilgrimages

Ichibata Yakushi

Photo by: PIXTA/ papa88 A holy temple that’s part of three pilgrimages.

The story of Ichibata Yakushi begins with a fisherman named Yoichi. One day, he discovered a statue of Yakushi Nyorai—also called the Medicine Buddha—in the sea and brought it home. This sparked a chain of events that resulted in the sight of Yoichi’s blind mother being healed. Yoichi then entered the Buddhist priesthood and Ichibata Yakushi was founded in the year 894 to enshrine Yakushi Nyorai.

Since then, people have visited the temple to pray for eye health, safety or the healing of other ailments. Ichibata Yakushi also earned a place in the Chugoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage, the Shimane Peninsula’s Forty-Two Bay Pilgrimage and the Izumo Shinbutsu Pilgrimage.

The Temple Today

Ichibata Yakushi

Photo by: PIXTA/ Yama See Lake Shinji and the surrounding mountain range.

One of the most prominent features of Ichibata Yakushi is its location. Perched 200 meters up a mountainside, visitors are treated to panoramic views of Lake Shinji and the Chugoku Mountain Range. Surrounding forests are also loved for their stunning red and yellow hues during autumn.

Koreicha (tea brewed with local well water and tea leaves) is another draw for visitors. Often used as an offering during prayers, koreicha is believed to have special properties, and visitors can either sample some near the temple office or buy a tokkuri (ceramic bottle) to take some home. Plain well water and bags of loose-leaf koreicha are also available for purchase.

For those who want to learn more about Buddhist practices or take time to clear their minds, the temple regularly holds sessions of zazen meditation and shakyo (copying sutras by hand).

Overnight Stays and Shopping

Try some Ichibata Manju before you go.

Located next to the temple grounds, Mount Ichibata Cottage offers accommodations to overnight visitors. These cottages are best for pairs or small groups, and guests have the privilege of enjoying a sauna and meals made with local ingredients.

Whether you stay overnight or not, another place to explore is the shopping street between the temple grounds and main parking lot. Here, you can buy souvenirs, have meals at restaurants and try local delicacies like Ichibata manju (sweet red bean paste buns stamped with the temple’s symbol).

Things To Know

HOURS AND FEES

Open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The best time to see autumn foliage at Ichibata Yakushi is typically from mid-November to early December.

Reservations for Mount Ichibata Cottage can be made online.

Reservations are usually required at least one day in advance for meditation experiences, which can be booked online here.

It may be possible to join calligraphy experiences on the same day, but advance reservations are preferred. If special events are taking place, reservations for meditation or calligraphy sessions may not be accepted.

How To Get There

Address

By train

Take a train from Matsue Shinjiko Onsen Station or Dentetsu Izumoshi Station and alight at Ichibataguchi (Note these trains do not accept JR Rail Passes. Local sightseeing passes such as the En-Musubi Perfect Ticket are accepted instead).

From here, you can take a bus to the temple, which usually departs in the morning at infrequent times (see Mount Ichibata Cottage’s website for details).

If you want to be adventurous, you can access the temple the old-fashioned way by walking from Ichibataguchi to Ichibata Yakushi Kosando—1,300 stairs that were traditionally used to reach the temple. It takes about an hour to walk to the temple grounds from Ichibataguchi, and caution is advised as you will walk along a road for part of the way.

By car

For the greatest flexibility, rental cars can be found near the JR stations in Matsue and Izumo. Driving to the temple takes about 40 minutes from either station, and on-site parking is available at the temple.

Where To Stay

Rita Izumo Hirata Sakemochida Kura
  • 810 Hiratacho, Izumo-shi, Shimane, 691-0001 Japan
  • ¥52,610 - ¥105,220
  • 5/5 (6 reviews)
  • 8.2 km

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