Yabakei's Rakan-ji, a temple said to have been established by Hodo, an Indian monk, in 645A.D., is sited spectacularly within a complex of caves high up on the side of Mt. Rakan. Over 3,700 stone Buddhas along with wooden shamoji rice spatulas, engraved with the prayers and wishes of the faithful, decorate the precincts.

The only access is via a steep climb on foot over steps hewn out of the rock or, most unusually for a temple, a chairlift. Not surprisingly, nearly all visitors pay the small fee to be whisked effortlessly to the temple’s entrance. Views from here across the valley below are only beaten by taking a second chairlift to the mountain top. From here the scenery of the surrounding peaks and valleys below is wonderful any time of the year but especially so when the autumn leaves are in their full glory.

Japan, Oita, Nakatsu, Honyabakeimachi Atoda, 1501 羅漢寺

At a glance

One of Japan's most interestingly sited temples with great views over the Yabakei region.

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