Boku wa Bosan (‘I am a Monk’) was filmed in Imabari city, Ehime prefecture, at the southernmost tip of Shimanami Kaido. The author of the original work, which were essays adapted into a film script, is Mr. Missei Shirakawa, the chief priest of Mt. Futo Muryojuin Eifuku-ji Temple (Temple No.57 on the Shikoku pilgrimage).
The book depicts the experiences of Mr. Missei Shirakawa, a member of staff at a book store who suddenly becomes the chief priest of the temple after the death of his grandfather. It was an extremely popular non-fiction work serialized 231 times in the Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbum from December 2001 through July 2008. The site recorded a record of over 1.4 million views per day.
A truly wonderful piece filled with laughter, tears and moving scenes, the lead role in the film is played by Atsushi Ito. As the filming was done mostly in Imabari, it allows viewers to enjoy an abundance of beautiful local scenery.
For those who have already seen the film, as well as those who would like to see it, this time we’ll be introducing some of the charms of Eifuku-ji temple, which was also part of the film set.
In 2014, the Shikoku pilgrimage celebrated its 1200th anniversary. In 2015, Kongobu-ji temple celebrated its 1200th anniversary, and lately there have been many young visitors as well as many non-Japanese visitors.
With traditional Japanese scenery of rice paddies spreading to the horizon, Eifuku-ji temple is located on the side of Mt. Futo in the southern part of Imabari.
The temple has a long history, which started in 810 when Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai) came to the area and visited the top of Mt. Futo. As he was conducting some Buddhist rituals and praying for peace, Amithaba appeared from the sea, shining brilliantly, and so a temple dedicated to Amithaba was constructed at this location.
Situated at the highest point of the temple grounds, above is the main temple building. This is where prayers were uttered before the start of filming.
This small carriage is found in front of the main building. It was used by a youngster with a foot handicap when he visited Eifuku-ji temple on the pilgrimage in 1933. As he said his prayers at the temple, his feet were healed and out of gratitude, he donated his carriage to the temple.
After this event, the temple received creed for protecting feet and hips.
This is Daishi-do hall, which enshrines a statue of Kobo Daishi.
The filming of the movie was done at Kongobu-ji temple, a sacred area opened up by Kobo Daishi, and together with Eifuku-ji temple, which is also related to Kobo Daishi, you feel the world of the famous monk.
The “Longevity Charm Cloth”.
These characters were written by an 88-year old worshipper at the temple on his 88th birthday. It is said that having this ensures longevity.
On the road of all human beings there is both life and death. I wonder what the right way is to face death. As these themes are explored in the film, it is sure to make you think deeply…
A large poster for the film is plastered up within the temple grounds. Among the pilgrims, too, there are people who come to visit after knowing about the film, which has led to the temple currently receiving a lot of attention.
This is Mr. Missei Shirakawa, the author of the original work. During the film shoot, he instructed the actors on, for example, how to read sutras as well as on etiquette.
And finally, this is the peak of Mt. Futo, the location of the temple as well as where the poster photo was shot. It appears in film scenes, as well, and offers a lovely view over the whole of Imabari, a scene even viewed by Kobo Daishi.
After enjoying ‘Boku wa Bosan’ (‘I am a Monk’), which is filled with hints on how to live, how about visiting Eifuku-ji temple, where it was filmed?
Temple 57 Mt. Futo Muryojuin Eifuku-ji
Location: 200 Yawata, Tamagawa-cho, Imabari city, Ehime prefecture
Closed: No regular holidays
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Ohashi
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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