Located in the hills just to the east of Hamada, Tada-Ji is the oldest existing temple in Hamada.
Founded in the early eighth Century by a student of Kukai it is a fairly large complex with several huge trees over 1,000 years old.
Kukai, known posthumously as Kobo Daishi is the founder of the Shingon sect, bases at Koyasan near Osaka/Nara.
This statue of Kobo Daishi stands in front of an Inari Shrine. Around the statue is a short path with 88 stone markers representing the 88 temples of the famous Shikoku pilgrimage. Miniature versions of pilgrimages are common throughout Japan, but this may be the shortest I've seen. Why walk 1,400 kilometres to visit 88 sites when you can walk it in 14 metres!
Of course there are hundreds and hundreds of miniature statues as at most temples.
Interestingly there is also a kagura-den with small shrine within the grounds.
Inside the main worship hall are 59 wooden statues that were found washed up on a nearby beach. Experts date the statues to about 1,000 years ago. They were found in 1870 around the time the new Meiji Government had a campaign to suppress Buddhism. Thousands of temples were razed and buddhist artworks destroyed, obviously sometimes by throwing them into the rivers and sea. The sea current here comes from the west so there is a high probability that they came from a temple in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
There is a big Matsuri here in early march that I hope to attend as I have never been to a Buddhist matsuri.
More posts on Tada-ji here.