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Kochi's Iwamotoji Temple

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Kochi's Iwamotoji Temple


A colorful temple on Shikoku’s 88-temple pilgrimage where Buddhist traditons meet contemporary art

Kochi Prefectural Government



Don’t forget to look up when you visit Iwamotoji Temple in Kochi Prefecture: the unique ceiling of its main hall is covered in almost 600 small square paintings, in a collage of artistic styles, ranging from Buddhist iconography to Marilyn Monroe.


That’s right, Marylin Monroe. This unusual blend of contemporary art and Buddhism dates back to 1978, when the temple was undergoing renovations. Professional and amateur artists from across Japan were selected via a competition to create the paintings, and the result is both surprising and delightful: cats coexist with Noh masks; natural landscapes sit alongside images of Buddhist saints.


At temple number 37 on Sihkoku’s famous 88-temple pilgrimage, Iwamotoji is certainly the least typical. Iwamotoji has teamed up with different contemporary artists to bring a modern take to both the temple grounds and surrounding area, where you can see their colorful work on display.


You can also stay here in Iwamotoji Temple's shukubo (temple lodging) and enjoy a rooftop sauna, yoga, BBQs, camping and even meditation in the crystal-clear waters of the nearby Shimanto River. Book 'SHETA's Room' to sleep in a room wrapped in pop art by contemporary artist SHETA. The Tokyo-based artist adorned the walls with cheerful flowers, butterflies and hearts when he was an artist-in-residence at the temple.


How to get there


Iwamotoji is 10 minutes on foot from JR Kubokawa Station, or just over 1 hour by car from central Kochi City.



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