Iwato-ji is one of the three temples on Kunisaki that still hold Shujo-onie. As with nearly all the temples on Kunisaki, two fearsome Nio guard the path to the temple. This couple, however, are the oldest in the area and date from 1478. Behind the main temple building is a thatched wooden structure where Shujo-onie is held every other year - the ritual alternates with Jobutsu-ji temple. Burn marks on the timber beams testify to the devils’ antics with the fiery torches that they wave around wildly.

Yakushi Nyorai is enshrined here and was reputedly carved by Ninmon, the founder of Rokugo-Manzan, from a single piece of kaya Japanese nutmeg yew tree. Other deities found here include Shayaka Nyorai, Nikko and Gakko Bosatsu.

Japan, Oita, Kunisaki, Kunisakimachi Iwatouji, 1222 岩戸寺

At a glance

The third of the three temples in Kunisaki where the extraordinary Shujo-onie festival is held every lunar new year.

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