Gakuen-Ji is among the oldest buddhist temples in Japan.
According to the story it is connected to Empress Suiko who ruled from 592CE to 628CE.
Another emperor linked to Gakuen-Ji is Emperor G0-Daigo who stayed at the temple after his escape from exile on the Oki Islands.
Probably the most famous person connected to the temple is the legendary warrior-monk Benkei. Every year at the end of October the temple holds a Benkei Matsuri complete with many people dressed as Benkei to commemorate his carrying a bell 100 kilometers from Mt Daisen to Gakuen-Ji. Until recently the festival included a walk from Daisen, but that has been discontinued.
While the legend of the temples founding is linked to a crocodile, some historians suggest that this is to do with the legendary figure Wani (crocodile) who brought chinese writing and Confuscianism from the mainland.
The crocodile of Gakuen-Ji as well as the crocodiles in the Inaba Rabbit story suggest connections between this part of Japan and the introduction of foreign knowlege.
There is no public transport to Gakuen-Ji, so to get there involves an expensive taxi ride from Hirata, or a walk over the mountains from Izumo Taisha if you dont have your own transport.
Ive always said this was my favorite temple, but I just got back from visiting a couple of mountain temples in Izumo, Mine-Ji and Kezo-Ji, both very, very, old, both remote, and both previously sites of Shugendo training, so........