Though it is the third temple on the pilgrimage, Shorakuji, by virtue of being the most easterly temple is often where most pilgrims begin their pilgrimage, and I was no exception. Located in the hills of Bizen, it is inland north of Hinase, Okayama.
Known, among other things, for its rather fine gate, constructed in 1801, I was disappointed to find it encased in scaffolding and tarps. However it was possible to watch a skilled artisan at work making repairs to one of the guardian Nio statues.
It is believe a temple stood here since 794, but Shorakuji was established in 1304. It burned down in 1615 and was partially rebuilt by 1704, however it was not until 1801 that the complex regained its earlier size.
There was not a lot of statuary, though there were many diverse onigawara. It has a fine bell tower that instead of containing a bell houses a large drum. It is said this is the style of ancient Korea. It is currently a Shingon temple and the honzon is the 11 faced Kannon.