We are Kochi-ke: Hiromasa Kubo

Where there are people, there is culture

“My late mother always used to say, ‘where there are people, there is culture.’ That’s something I always keep in mind when I think about my duty as the head priest of Iwamoto-ji Temple. People are often surprised and perhaps even a little confused as to why there’s a tuk-tuk parked in front of an over 1000-year-old temple, vibrant pop art adorning the traditional architecture, English phrases like ‘love & peace’ written across the stone steps, camping and sauna experiences on offer, and more. But the reason is very simple. No matter what cultural background, ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation, I dream for Iwamoto-ji Temple to be a place where anybody can find a sense of belonging. To be a melting pot where ideas collide and inspiring conversations bring to life a community that can’t be found anywhere else. At the end of the day, it’s all about people.”

“Long time ago, when people couldn’t travel around so easily, temples served as central locations for the local culture to thrive. So, to me, it feels very natural for a temple to evolve alongside the changing demographic of visitors in order to fulfill its inherent duty of being a welcoming space. From the vegan curry recipe we developed using Shimanto ginger and rice that cater to those with food preferences or allergies, to our wooden sauna built by a local craftsman for outdoor-lovers, the process of creating such diverse options has also largely been a collaborative effort with the community, which has been so fun. At the end of the day, if pursuing what feels fun to oneself brings even a little bit of happiness to someone else, there’s nothing better.”

“Perhaps the most distinct aspect of Iwamoto-ji Temple is the ceiling art of the main hall. Among the 575 square paintings, you will find everything from traditional images of the Buddha, flowers, sailboats, cats and giraffes to Marilyn Monroe and even Mother Mary. Installed more than 40 years ago–surprisingly far back for such a forward-thinking project in my opinion–the idea for the ceiling art originally came from asking the same question I pose myself every day: how can we cultivate a welcoming space for everyone, which not only reflects, but also celebrates the diversity in our world? It is said that the head priest at the time brainstormed with a local artist to come up with the idea of having people from all over the country contribute. Even to this day, when I look up at the ceiling art, I am amazed by how well every piece comes together into a single masterpiece. Despite there being so many contrasting styles, colors, patterns, intentions and meanings, not one artwork feels out of place. To me, that’s because differences are always meant to be.”

“We are Kochi-ke (Kochi family)” is all about highlighting the stories of the people who make us proud to call Kochi our home. Whether you are living in Kochi now or have only visited once, you are part of the Kochi family

Learn more about Iwamoto-ji Temple: https://visitkochijapan.com/en/see-and-do/10485
  • We are Kochi-ke: Hiromasa Kubo

  • We are Kochi-ke: Hiromasa Kubo

  • We are Kochi-ke: Hiromasa Kubo