While temples and shrines are common throughout Japan, “Three Temples” is an off-the-beaten-path adventure with Iwakuni’s most majestic views!
A secret mountaintop
Hidden on the peak of a mountain, this sacred area hosts some of the best views around Iwakuni. People call this area “Three Temples,” but there are really two shrines and one temple. The shrines are Akataki Shrine and Yayamahonshabiate-yama Shrine – say that three times fast! This little-known area has little information even in Japanese, let alone English – probably because it’s at the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere! We have come here several times; its a place we like to take family and friends who are visiting because it’s a fun adventure that isn’t far away.
The temple is called “Chōrakuji.” It commemorates a drought from 1770, when there was no rain for 70 days. They prayed for rain in temple after temple, and it still didn’t rain. Finally, they asked a monk from Yanai to pray at Toko-ji in Hagi, and – BOOM – there was a sudden downpour. The entire area celebrated, and they decided to build a temple on the mountain to commemorate it.
Matt was first introduced to the area by our friend Matt. They were doing some mountain biking in the area and Matt fell in love with these mountains. The trailhead is near the shrines just past the toilet, and is a nice mountain bike trail when it’s maintained. The locals will hike up from the valley below.
The drive up the mountain is always fun, with winding, narrow roads, tall trees and scattered rocks strewn on the road. Since the heavy rain and flooding in July 2018, parts of the road feel a bit more narrow and there are quite a bit more downed trees lining the road. Mother Nature can be so destructive!
What to do at Three Temples
Three temples is a spectacular place to go and watch a sunrise or sunset. Matt came here on New Years Day morning for hatsuhinode, the first sunrise of the year. He was also able to cross off visiting his first shrine of the year, “hatsumode.”
From the top of the lookout at Yayamahonshabiateyama Shrine you can see the valleys, steep cliffs, rice paddies and Sanyo expressway in the distance. It is awe-inspiring, especially during the magic hours in the morning and evening! I fall in love with Japan more and more every time I see views like this.
The road at the end can get pretty steep. Our Cube will make it, but I always give Matt a sideways glance, wondering, “Are we going to stall?!” There are three pull outs after the last fork in the road where you can park your car and walk the rest of the way up.
Note: We saw a wild boar on our drive out here, so beware of wildlife!
Three temples is a great place to go and meditate, enjoy nature and get away from it all!
Plan your trip: