A partially hidden gem, Mitaki-ji Temple is a Shingon Buddhist temple located in the forested hills bordering Hiroshima, Japan. It can be reached by 15 minutes walk from Mitaki railway station, the third station from Hiroshima station on the Kabe line. The latter part of the walk is along a stream divided road. Entrance is free but a 200 yen donation is appreciated. Near the temple ground entrance is a seated Buddha.
The Buddha is flanked on both sides by red capped jizos. In Japanese Buddhist teaching jizos are believed to be protectors of travellers, children and babies. The jizos are wearing red caps a bibs. In Japanese folklore red is the colour for expelling illness and demons. The caps and bibs are knitted by women hoping to gain merit for the next life. This is an example of intersection between Buddhist and folk beliefs.
A short way into the temple grounds the path forks. Walking to the left brings you to a two storied pagoda called a tahōtō. Said to date from the Muromachi period (1392-1573) it was originally built in Wakayama Prefecture on the grounds of the Hirohachiman Shrine. In 1951 it was moved to Hiroshima to console the souls of victims who died in the atomic bombing. Inside is a seated wooden statue of the Buddha Amitabha Tathagata. This statue is a designated National Important Cultural Asset.
I cannot see the Buddha as the pagoda is closed.
Returning and contining along the right fork, the path continues upwards through the forest. On both sides, amongst the forest and moss, are more than 300 Buddhas and jizos. Parallel to the path a babbling stream, fed by a small waterfall located deeper in the temple grounds, adds to the sense of tranquility.
The main shrine is small and emmersed in subdued light.
There appeared to be some paths going beyong the waterfall but lacking any maps I decide not to follow. During my visit, thankfully there were very few people present.