This information is being put together from many sources. In addition to my personal notes, a list of my resources can be found on the Pilgrimage Books & Papers page. The distances between temples comes from the Japanese maps in Shikoku Henro Hitori Aruki Dōgyō Ninin. The links for each of the temple's honzon (main deity) go to an explanation of that deity on the Shingon Buddhist International Institute web site at www.shingon.org.
2. About each temple's goeika: there are variations between books on the goeika for various temples. I don't know if they have changed over the years or if different groups and/or sects have different accepted versions. Just beware that you may find differences, depending on the book you take the information from.
2. About each temple's goeika: there are variations between books on the goeika for various temples. I don't know if they have changed over the years or if different groups and/or sects have different accepted versions. Just beware that you may find differences, depending on the book you take the information from.
If you find yourself spending any time as you enter this last prefecture thinking about nehan and whether or not you're about there, then you had better just get on a bus, go back to Temple 1, and start all over again.
Remember those blisters back in the first few weeks? Nehan. Remember those freezing mornings in Tokushima-ken? Nehan. Remember those trucks that almost ran you off the road? Or, those long, polluted, and noisy tunnels you had to walk through? Nehan. By the same token, you were also there when you visited with that wonderful minshuku owner late into the night over tea, and when that lady on the side of the road gave you oranges as settai, and when that man offered you a ride while it was raining, and when that shop owner didn't charge you for the ramen you had for lunch. Nehan, nehan, and more nehan. Stop searching and wondering. Stop trying to put it in a place. Stop trying to make it something.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 18.1 km||Distance to Next Temple: 9.4 km|
Kōbō Daishi enshrined a Buddhist relic here in 790 and then returned at a later date, founded the temple, and carved the honzon. The temple was dedicated by Emperor Kameyama when he came here and planted a ginko tree which bears a Sanskrit inscription and which has since enshrined the hair from his head.
In the late 16th century, Chōsokabe Motochika climbed to the temple and was inspired enough by the grandeur that he decided to try and conquer and control the three provinces of Awa, Iyo, and Sanuki. The temple priest tried to talk him out of it and, even though Chōsokabe refused to take his advice, his forthrightness and willingness to speak may have been the reason that the temple complex wasn't burned down like so many others on the island. At one time the temple had seven shrines, twelve affiliated halls, and eight branch temples.
This temple is at the highest elevation of all pilgrimage temples (3060 ft; 911 m) but there is a ropeway to the top for those that need it. The mountain sits on the corner of three provinces, and as strange as it seems, this first temple listed as being in Kagawa Prefecture is actually in Tokushima Prefecture.
There are also other statues of Kannon and Fudō, which are both National Treasures.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 9.4 km||Distance to Next Temple: 8.7 km|
Founded by Kōbō Daishi on the orders of Emperor Saga in 822, this temple is commonly called Komatsu-(-ji (The Tail of the Small Pine Tree Temple) which is the mountain name attributed to the temple. Kōbō Daishi worshipped the Gongen of the three places in Kumano here and carved the honzon.
The temple has been associated with the three Kumano Shrines since its founding in 822. At one time it contained twenty-four Shingon Halls and twelve Tendai Shrines. At that time it was under the joint management of both the Shingon and Tendai Sects. Most of these building were burnt down in the 16th century by Chōsokabe's warriors.
The great camphor tree in the compound was planted by Kōbō Daishi. The statue is of Tendai Daishi, the Chinese founder of T'ien-t'ai Buddhism. There are also two daishidō Halls in the compound, one for Shingon and one for Tendai.
Like many other temples, this temple was burned by the warriors of Chōsokabe Motochika in the 16th century. The temple is also known as Komatsuoji (Temple of the Small Pine Tree's Tail).
|Distance to Previous Temple: 8.7 km||Distance to Next Temple: 0.0 km|
On March 21, 703, Nisshō, a monk in the Yogacara School, had a vision here. Seven colorful clouds arose on the western horizon and hovered over the mountain of this temple (Mt. Kotohiki). Suddenly a ship floated on the sea and the god Hachiman appeared to Nissh( playing a Koto and said, I am the god Hachiman himself, and I will stay here to protect the Buddha's Dharma and the ruler's law.
Nisshō dedicated the ship and its Koto to the temple. Later, Kōbō Daishi painted the Kotobiki (harp playing) Hachiman in the form of Amida Butsu and dedicated that to the temple as well. The picture of Amida is now a National Treasure. Kōbō Daishi is also attributed with having carved the honzon.
Legend states that Gyōgi Bosatsu also stayed at this temple for a short period.
Be sure to look down on Ariake beach from the lookout on the road above the temple and see the coin-shaped circle made of sand and originally built in 1633 in imitation of a coin of the Kanei period.
** Both this temple and Temple 69 are in the same compound and the nōkyōsho for both is at the same window.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 0.0 km||Distance to Next Temple: 4.5 km|
Temple 69 and the town both share the same name. Kōbō Daishi stayed here and was the seventh priest of the temple. He founded the temple and carved the honzon as well, which is considered to be the incarnation of Empress Jingu. When Kōbō Daishi was here, he enshrined seven halls and forty-seven stupas around Kotobiki hall.
This temple is thought to be an especially effective place to pray for victory in battle. This is because at the time of the Mongol invasions, Emperor Kameyama came here and prayed for the safety of the nation.
One priest manages both Temple 68 and Temple 69. Temple 69 has several National Treasures, including an icon of Buddha entering Nirvana (Shaka-nehan-zō), Fudō Myōō, and painted scrolls of the temple's legend of Kotobiki Hachiman. Interestingly, this temple doesn't have a daishidō.
Starr notes that when Kōbō Daishi came here, through the inspiration of Shichihozan Hachiman he buried seven treasures here. Hence the temple is also called Shichihozan Kannonji.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 4.5 km||Distance to Next Temple: 11.3 km|
The temple was founded by Kōbō Daishi in 807 at the request of Emperor Shōmu, and it is said that he built the hondō in a single night. The huge main shrine was built in the 9th century but had to undergo substantial repairs in the Kamakura Period. Unlike most other temples on the pilgrimage, this temple has not been burned down and is now classified as a national treasure.
The honzon and his supporting deities Amida Nyorai and Yakushi Nyorai were all carved by Kōbō Daishi and are National Treasures. The temple commonly believed to have been built by him in a single night.
As the name implies, this temple used to be the biggest on Shikoku Island. Legend states that it was spared the ravages of Chōsokabe's armies when they were driven away by a huge swarm of bees that live at the temple.
This is the only temple on the pilgrimage that enshrines the angry-faces Batō Kannon as its honzon. The statue of Amida Nyorai is famous and called Tachi-uke-no-mida, Wounded Amida Bosatsu, who saved the temple from attach by Chōsokabe's troops by sacrificing himself and being wounded.
Don't miss the five-story pagoda and Niō( gate, which are both Important Cultural Properties. The pagoda was supposedly built by Kōbō Daishi. In fact, the first floor is supposed to be a remnant of the original building, with the upper floors being newer. But, some say that this is not true and, in fact, that the entire temple was burnt down by Chōsokabe and rebuilt in the 16th century.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 11.3 km||Distance to Next Temple: 3.5 km|
This temple was constructed and founded by Gyōgi Bosatsu. The honzon is by Kōbō Daishi. The temple was originally called Yakunidera (Eight Counties Temple) because it sat on a hill overlooking eight provinces, including Aki, Bingo, Bittchū, and Bizen.
Emperor Shōmu donated a treasure tower and a rice field to the temple. When Kōbō Daishi was studying the gumonjihō here a five-handed sword fell from the sky hence it was also called the 5 sword temple.
There are more than 1500 carvings of Amida Buddha and his attendants in the rock wall behind the temple. Also carved in the wall are images of stupas and the words Namu Amida Butsu. Some say they were carved by Ippen Shōnin in the 13th century (Readicker-Henderson says most of them were carved by Kōbō Daishi) but the priest says that most date from between the 13th and the 15th centuries.
Kōbō Daishi is said to have come here frequently from the time he was seven until he was thirteen, at which time he started to wander farther from home. There is a cave above the hondō called the Shishi no Gankutsu (Lion's Cave) where he came to meditate.
This temple is probably attributed with more miraculous cures that any other on the pilgrimage. There are piles of crutches, artificial limbs, and medical equipment outside the hondō, all dedicated to Kannon by people whose handicap has been cured.
Before this pilgrimage came into existence as a whole, Temples 71 through 77 constituted a short pilgrimage of their own. Apparently many people wanted to inter the ashes of their loved ones here on this mountain. On their way here they would stop at each of the temples from what are now called 71 through 76. As this whole pilgrimage began to take shape, though, this 7 temple pilgrimage, like the 10 temple pilgrimage from Temples 1 to 10, was incorporated into the (now) 88 temple route.
At no other temple can you get a better view of the alter in the hondō. Pilgrims are invited into the hondō to view it while kneeling in front in prayer.
Miyata says, "One never forgets the first impression of this temple, a dark and foggy place surrounded with thick verdant trees, steep bluffs, and various aged tombs."
Starr notes that the honzon is by Gyōgi.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 3.5 km||Distance to Next Temple: 0.6 km|
Originally called Sesaka-dera, this was built in 596 and was the ancestral temple of the Saeki clan, into which Kōbō Daishi was born. When he returned from China, he dedicated the Kongōkai and Taizōkai mandalas signifying the worlds of the cosmic Buddha and enshrined the Dainichi Nyorai as the honzon. Kōbō Daishi modeled the temple after Ch'ing-lung-si Temple in China (Shoyuji) and it took three years to build. Once built, it was renamed to its present name.
Of interest is the Ageless Pine Tree in the temple courtyard. It is a huge (but not tall) dome-shaped tree and maintained in the form of a circle. It is said that Kōbō Daishi himself planted the tree here.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 0.6 km||Distance to Next Temple: 2.8 km|
When Kōbō Daishi was seven years old, he climbed to the cliffs above the temple here and, after vowing to save all sentient beings, threw himself over the edge saying "If my desire to save all beings will be achieved the Buddha will save me. If not, let me die." As we know, his future works were assured when a company of angels appeared and saved him by catching him in their robes. Because of this legend, this site is popularly called Shashingatake (the Jumping Cliff).
At a later date, Kōbō Daishi returned here to study and perform the Gumonjihō. He also carved an image of Kokūzō Bosatsu and dedicated it in the Okunoin.
There is a worn and faded stone alter on the summit of the mountain, which was a popular place for the mountain ascetics of old to worship. You can see the cliff from the temple compound. The original temple is at the top of the mountain, just below the cliff, and well worth the walk up. However, several centuries ago it was moved and today's temple is located at the foot of the mountain so that it is more accessible to pilgrims.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 2.8 km||Distance to Next Temple: 1.6 km|
The temple received its name because the mountain is shaped like a helmet, or the armor of Bishamonten. The temple was founded by Kōbō Daishi. He also carved the honzon in appreciation for the successful completion of the reconstruction of Mannoike (Manno Irrigation Pond), which he supervised and directed.
According to another legend, Kōbō Daishi met an aged man here while searching for a good site on which to build this temple. A sage came out of a cave and said, "I am a sage who gives meritorious power and propagates good teaching. If you build your temple here, I will protect it throughout the ages." Kōbō Daishi immediately cut out a piece of the rock and carved the image of Bishamonten.
Just above the hondō is a small grotto, shielded by a spring. There is also a stone water trough nearby, nearly ten feet long. Not far from the temple is Mannoike, the most famous of Kōbō Daishi's civil works projects. It is a huge irrigation reservoir built on the orders of the Emperor. A statue of Kōbō Daishi stands on the levee. Legend states the he built the halls of Kōyamaji with the money he received for building the reservoir.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 1.6 km||Distance to Next Temple: 3.8 km|
Famous as the birthplace of Kōbō Daishi, this was the first Shingon temple in Japan. Its name derives from his father's name Yoshimichi (Zenstv), which literally means 'Right Path.'
Legend states that the temple was built on sand from the eight sacred places of India, which had been given to Kōbō Daishi by his teacher Hui Kuo. It took six years to complete construction and was dedicated in 816 (or 813). Kōbō Daishi also is credited with carving the honzon. The chief priest was traditionally appointed by the emperor himself.
This location is also called Byōbugara. Kōbō Daishi parents are Yoshimichi Saeki and Tamayori-gozen. The name he was given at birth was Mao (Real Fish).
As is appropriate, this temple, and its surrounding town, is the largest on the island of Shikoku and contains the typical seven shrines and pagoda. Be sure to visit the tunnel corridor (Kaidan Meguri) in the basement of Tanjōin. You must walk the one hundred yards through the tunnel and past 88 Buddhas without a lamp. Evil people are supposed to get stuck in the tunnel. Also in the tunnel is a small square, said to mark the exact spot of Kōbō Daishi's birth.
There is controversy about this temple, though. At the time of Kōbō Daishi's birth, women were generally banned from the house during times of menstruation and childbirth as they were considered to be ritually unclean at these times. Some say that Kōbō Daishi was born at a house nearer the beach and there is a bangai temple at that location now, but there seems little doubt that he was raised in a house at this location.
At this temple one can see a grave where Mao buried his dog, a scroll written by his mother, and a statue carved by Kōbō Daishi when he was a young man. Near the back of the temple compound is the Miedo, once the house of Kōbō Daishi's mother and now a temple. Also in the back is a new meditation hall, made of highly polished marble, and a n new stupa.
In the vicinity of the temple is Konpira Shrine (also known as Konpira-san) where the famous Shintō kami Konpira is enshrined and attracts four million visitors each year. Especially fishermen, seamen, and pilots worship this shrine because it is considered the guardian of shipwrecks and voyages. It is located on the top of Mt. Zōzu (Elephant Head) at an elevation of 1,700 ft. There are 785 stone steps to the hondō.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 3.8 km||Distance to Next Temple: 3.9 km|
Konzōji was originally called Dōzenji and was founded in 714by Wake-no-Michi-maro, the grandfather of Enchin (814-891), also known as Chisō Daishi. Chisō, a nephew of Kōbō Daishi and the sixth patriarch of Tendai Buddhism, was born here and remodeled the temple after the pattern of the Green Dragon Temple (Ch'ing-lungji) of Ch'ang-an after his return from China. In 851 the temple was named as one of the temples for the emperor to pray in. The present name was given to the temple in 928.
At one time the temple owned 132 residential halls for monks but extensive fires in the 16th century destroyed most of it and was rebuilt on a smaller scale by the lord of Takamatsu castle.
Of interest are the self-portrait of Chisō Daishi, a statue of him in the compound, a residential home for General Nogi, and the Tsuma-gaeshi-no-matsu (a pine tree under which the general's wife used to wait for him during military duties). This pine tree is also called the Waiting Pine because 'matsu' means both 'to wait' and 'pine tree.'
|Distance to Previous Temple: 3.9 km||Distance to Next Temple: 7.2 km|
Wake no Michitaka founded the temple in 749 to repent for accidentally shooting his nurse with an arrow. At the same time, he carved a small statue of Yakushi from a mulberry tree and enshrined it as the temple's honzon. Kōbō Daishi later carved a larger statue of Yakushi and placed this smaller one inside.
Chōyv, a descendant of Wake-no-Michitaka, later expanded the temple by adding twenty-three structures, including a Yakushi Shrine, Maitreya Shrine, hondō, belfry, and more. He accomplished this by selling his own mulberry farm, jewelry, and other treasures.
Chishō Daishi established the custom of giving annual Lotus Sutra lectures here and carved statues of the Five Guardian Deities. For several centuries, both Tendai and Shingon monks were sent here by imperial order to study and it was designated an official place of imperial worship. However, the Tenshō fire in the 16th century reduced thee temple to one-tenth its original size.
The temple belongs to the Daigo-ha Shingon sect, and is called Dai Honzan (Great Headquarters). Of interest nearby is Kaiganji, a legendary site of the birth of Kōbō Daishi. Also of interest are the huge waraji dedicated to the temple at the temple gate.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 7.2 km||Distance to Next Temple: 5.9 km|
The temple was founded by Gyōgi Bosatsu and originally called Dōjōji. It was later rebuilt by Kōbō Daishi and yet again by St. Ippen in the 13th century. When St. Ippen rebuilt it, he also converted it to the Jishū sect of Pure Land Buddhism and changed the name to its present name.
At the time, the was an ongoing battle on Mt. Kōya between Shingon priests and wandering lay priests who also lived on the mountain part of the year and believed in the efficacy of chanting the Nembutsu. Eventually the battle got too bloody for anyone to stand and the matter was taken to the Shōgun to settle. He ordered non-Shingon priests off the mountain and they ended up going to Shikoku and settling at this temple.
Miyata says that the honzon was carved by Kōbō Daishi, but both Readicker-Henderson and Starr say it was carved by Gyōgi. After its conversion to the Jōdo Shū, it became a Dōjō of Nembutsu and had seven branch temples and flourished under the patronage of Lord Yoriyasu Hosokawa before it burnt down in the 16th century.
Of interest is a Kōjin deity with a blue face and six hands surrounded by three monkeys in the hondō. This deity is the local guardian of health and is popularly worshipped by the locals for a quick recovery from prolonged illnesses. While here, one probably won't miss the priest asking for donations over the loudspeaker. Also of interest, is Marugame Castle of 60,000 koku of rice.
Legend says that when the temple's bell was being cast, a strange man appeared and threw some unknown substance into the fire. Therefore, ever since it was built, this bell can be heard from further away than any other bell.
Outside the main gate are statues of the three monkeys: See no evil, Hear no evil, and Speak no evil. Traditionally it is hoped that the worms who live inside each human and at death report on that person's worthiness will keep the monkey's example in mind and say nothing on judgement day.
There is a Shintō shrine on the hill behind the hondō (the path goes around to the left). Directly in front of the path is a stairway leading down into a tunnel full of thousands of statues of Amida, donated by faithful worshipers. Worshipers throw coins onto a screen that covers part of the stairway.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 5.9 km||Distance to Next Temple: 6.6 km|
This temple is popularly called Sūtoku Tennōji (Emperor Svtoku's Temple) because his coffin was preserved and worshipped here for a short time after his assassination at Tsutsumigaoka in 1156.
The temple was founded by Yamato Takeru (although Readicker-Henderson says it was Kōbō Daishi), who, legend states, killed a fish monster here. Later, Kōbō Daishi revived it under the name of Manju-in and dedicated three Buddhas, a Jvichi-men Kannon, an Aizen Myōō, and an Amida Nyorai.
In the temple compound is the Yasoba fountain where the body of Emperor Svtoku was cleaned daily for twenty-one days after his death before being moved to Temple 81 for burial. The fountain looks like a pond in the dim shade of big trees. Legend states that Kōbō Daishi carved a statue of Yakushi in stone, dedicated it in this fountain, and performed an esoteric rite.
As an indication of how remote the pilgrimage is for foreigners, a woman at the Nōkyōsho told Readicker-Henderson while the temple receives about 100,000 visitors each year, on average only one of them is non-Japanese. And that one is usually an Indian.
This temple, as well, shares it's compound with a Shintō shrine. This shrine has a particularly thick shimenawa (ceremonial rope) over the entrance.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 6.6 km||Distance to Next Temple: 6.5 km|
The temple was founded by Gyōgi Bosatsu in 741 at the request of Emperor Shōmu for the protection of the nation. The sixteen-foot Kannon combines both his Jūichimen and Senju aspects and is also by Gyōgi, but was partially repaired by Kōbō Daishi after a fire. The Kannon is the finest and largest statue on Shikoku and has eleven faces and forty-two arms.
The hondō is of the Kamakura period and is the oldest physical structure remaining of all the Kokubunji. Its bell is also one of the oldest in Japan. Both the bell and the hondō are considered a National Treasure.
Of interest are some building materials to the east of the hondō left over from the time of Kōbō Daishi's reconstruction of the temple. These are considered National Treasures. The daishidō attracts people with the classical beauty of the Tahōtō (treasure tower) in which a thousand Jizō statues are enshrined.
The walkways of this temple are lined with stone sculptures, each representing one of the eighty-eight temples on the pilgrimage. According to Readicker-Henderson, the carvings for Temples 74 and 75 are especially good. The rows of carvings begin directly behind the main gate, which is protected by a huge spreading pine tree.
There is one official state temple in each province, and these are: Temple 15 (Awa/Tokushima), Temple 29 (Tosa/Kōchi), Temple 59 (Iyo/Ehime), and Temple 80 (Sanuki/Kagawa).
|Distance to Previous Temple: 6.5 km||Distance to Next Temple: 5.0 km|
The temple was founded by Kōbō Daishi. Chishō Daishi later added forty-seven buildings to the temple. The honzon is attributed to Chishō-Daishi as well (but Starr says that it was by Kōbō Daishi). Chishō carved it from a shining piece of wood he found floating at sea. At the time he found it, a white-haired sage appeared to him and said, 'This is the holy site in which to turn the wheel of Dharma and enter Samdhi.'
The temple also contains the mausoleum of Emperor Sūtoku, who was assassinated near Temple 79 in 1156 after being banished from Kyōto following an unsuccessful coup attempt against his brother, the then current emperor. The mausoleum was built in 1414 and is located behind the temple. According to the guidebooks, all pilgrims should visit it.
This temple has some of the oldest buildings on the pilgrimage and the hondō dates back to the turn of the seventeenth century. The three main buildings are in the permanent shadows of overhanging trees. The trees are so thick that a tiny grotto and spring that have formed are in near darkness.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 5.0 km||Distance to Next Temple: 11.9 km|
This temple was founded by Kōbō Daishi before his trip to China in 804. Chishō Daishi, a nephew of Kōbō Daishi, carved the Senju Kannon from cherry wood (Starr says it was Kōbō Daishi himself) and enshrined it here at the request of a local Shintō kami, Ichinosemyōjin. At a later date, the temple was lavishly patronized by Emperor Go-Shirakawa, owned 99 branch temples, and possessed a thousand koku of rice. But, like many of the temples on Shikoku, most of this was destroyed by fire in the 16th century.
This temple is located on the same plateau as temple 81. The plateau is called Goshiki Dai (The Plateau of Five Colors) because it consists of five differently colored peaks symbolizing the five forms of Buddha Mahavairocana.
The name of the prefecture, Kagawa (Fragrant/Incense River), is derived form a river flowing from the root of a tree in the courtyard of this temple. This temple, like Temple 81, is located at 1200 ft (360 m).
Of interest is the shrine enshrining 10,000 images of Kannon. Also of interest is the thousand-year-old Keyaki (Zelkova) tree and the large statue in front of the main gate of Ushi-oni (the Ox Devil). Legend states that in the 16th century, a devil animal with an ox head and a body like a fox appeared frequently on this plateau and scared the local people. A brave samurai named Kurando Yamada, an archery expert, shot the devil, cut off its head, and brought it to the temple in memory of the dead devil. The people called the animal Ushi-oni and believed that it had the power to purge an evil force. Later, they built a statue of the Ushi-oni near the fountain in the temple compound. Now, a sacred Shimenawa even hangs around it.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 11.9 km||Distance to Next Temple: 13.6 km|
The temple was founded by Gien in 704 (Readicker-Henderson says 702) and originally called Daihō-in (although Starr says that it was founded by Gyōgi). It acquired its present name when the Ichinomiya Shrine was built in the temple compound in 716. It was later rebuilt by Kōbō Daishi at the same time he carved the honzon and enshrined it in the daishidō.
As with most temples on the circuit, this temple burned down in the 16th century. The present temple was rebuilt in 1701. The temple is commonly called Sanuki Ichinomiya (The Shrine Temple of Sanuki). There are several small torii in the compound. Pilgrims crawl (on hands and knees) through the torii to purify themselves of bad karma and to ward off any evil influences.
In 1679 the temple was declared separate from the Tamura Shrine on the orders of the lord of Takamatsu Castle, Yorishige Matsudaira. Of interest are three tombs dating from the 13th century and called the Ichinomiya Goryō. The nearby Tamura Shrine is considered the foremost shrine in Kagawa Prefecture. Also of interest is Ritsurin Park and Garden, known as one of the three most beautiful gardens in all of Japan.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 13.6 km||Distance to Next Temple: 5.4 km|
This temple was founded in 754 by the famous Chinese monk Chin'en-chen (Ganjin) who came from Yoshu in China (Readicker-Henderson points out that there is another competing legend which states that it was founded by Kōbō Daishi in 815). It remained a Ritsu (Vinaya) temple until Kōbō Daishi converted it to a Shingon temple. The hondō and honzon are both of the Kamakura Period and designated as Important Cultural Properties. The Senju Kannon was carved by Kōbō Daishi.
The temple is near the site of the Battle of Gempei where the Genji and the Heike fought at the end of the 12th century. It was originally founded on the northern part of the island and then moved to the southern part by Kōbō Daishi, hence the temple's title of Nanmen-zan (The mountain that faces to the south).
Of interest are the snow garden at the temple, the old battle site, and a museum containing relics from that battle. The temple's belfry is also from the Kamakura Period.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 5.4 km||Distance to Next Temple: 6.5 km|
This temple is located on Go-ken-zan (Five sword mountain) and was founded by Kōbō Daishi in 827 after five swords appeared in the sky, signifying a successful completion to the gumonjihō rite. The top of the mountain has five huge rocks on the top, as the name also signifies.
When on the way to China, he planted 8 baked chestnuts (Yakuri) here and on his return he found that they had grown into great trees, hence the temple's name. The honzon is also attributed to Kōbō Daishi. As with most temples, Chōsokabe's warriors burned the temple down in the 16th century, but it was rebuilt by the Lord of Takamatsu Castle, Matsudaira.
The Shōden, or Kangiten, an elephant faced deity in the Hindu tradition, was donated to Saint Mokujiki by Empress Tōfukuin in the 16th century and has been popularly worshipped here by many devotees. Thousands of people visit here on the 16th of every month to pray for their business success.
Of interest is the Ajikan Meditation Hall (open to the public). The temple is one of the richest on the island and is known as the temple of Ganesa (Shōden) all over western Japan.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 6.5 km||Distance to Next Temple: 7.0 km|
One of the daughters of Fujiwara Kamatari went to China to become a concubine of the T'ang emperor Tai-tsung. Once there, she sent back three tiny but precious jewels for her brother's use in work on Nara's Kōfukuji. Unfortunately the boat sank near Shido Bay and the three jewels were stolen by the Dragon King.
Her brother, Fubito, disguised himself and married a female diver in the area in order to recover the jewels. Eventually the wife gave birth to a son and at that time promised to recover the jewels on the condition that the husband promise to make the son his heir. Through a heroic dive, the woman recovered the jewels, but at the cost of her life because the Dragon King saw her and she only got away by slitting herself and hiding the jewels inside. She was dead when she reached the surface. The son, Fusasaki, became the heir and the ancestor of the northern branch of the Fujiwara aristocracy. The jewels sit between the eyes of the Shakuson statue at Kōfukuji in Nara.
This temple was built by the son and by Gyōgi Bosatsu in the 694 as a memorial to her and remains dedicated to the spirits of the dead (hence a strong association with Emma, the King of Hell). However, the original temple dates from much earlier and the honzon dates from the time of Empress Suiko in the 6th century.
According to Starr, the buildings were rebuilt by Gyōgi and the honzon is by Kōbō Daishi. Some say it is the incarnation of Monju Bosatsu, some say Sonoko Ama. The main Buddha with the Fudō and Bishamon are all National Treasures.
This legend has been made famous the Noh drama called Ama. Of interest are the tomb of Ama, a landscape garden featuring flowing water which is the masterwork of Hosokawa from the Muromachi Period, a Hosokawa from the Muromachi Period, a Niōō gate,, the hondō, and the five-story pagoda (Go-jū-no-tō).
|Distance to Previous Temple: 7.0 km||Distance to Next Temple: 12.3 km|
The temple was founded by Gyōgi Bosatsu in 738 (although Starr says that it was Shōtoku Taishi). Kōbō Daishi came her later and, in keeping a vow he made before leaving for China, performed a Goma ritual for the first seven nights in January (by the Chinese lunar calendar) and distributed amulets to the assembled people. This is the origin of the Daikaiyōfuka-ubai (The Rite of Chasing a Good Fortune). During this festival, there is a race where people care a big mochi (mashed rice) and this is famous through out Japan.
The honzon was carved in a willow tree by Gyōgi (but Starr says that it was by Kōbō Daishi).
This temple was one of seventeen monastic study centers established by Chishō Daishi of Tendai Buddhism. In 1681, the temple converted to Tendai Buddhism and was restored by Yorishige Matsudaira, the lord of Takamatsu castle.
Of interest is the tomb of Shizuka Gozen, the lover of Minamoto Yoshitsune. After his death, she was ordained and entered the religious life here.
|Distance to Previous Temple: 12.3 km||Distance back to Temple 1: 38.8 km|
This is the last temple of the circuit and has been appropriately named Kechigan-sho, the place of fulfilling your vow. The real name, Ōkuboji, derives from a large hollow/hole which once existed here. The temple was founded by Gyōgi Bosatsu in 717. It was later rebuilt by Kōbō Daishi when he carved the honzon and enshrined it here with his staff (shakujō).
In commemoration of his trip to China, he enshrined his Shakujō at this temple. A Shakujō is a walking stick with large metal rings attached to the top of the handle in order to make rattling sounds. Likewise, it is now customary for all pilgrims to leave their walking stick here after they complete their pilgrimage.
The Okunoin is 18 cho back into the mountains, where you will find statues of Amida and Kannon. There is also a cave where Kōbō Daishi practiced the gumonjihō.
Of interest here are the numerous crutches left by people who been miraculously cured during their pilgrimage. Also of interest are the sacred Buppōsō birds and the Kechigan omamori (talismans).
Don't relax yet! This may have been the 88th temple, but it is not the end of the journey. You still have one more day of walking before you complete the circle and return to where all of this began almost two months ago — Temple 1.
Now is the time to ask yourself what you learned, what you let go of, and what you realized during this walk. What will you bring home with you? What will you bring back and share with those awaiting your return? Use this next day wisely and keep in mind that it isn't the last day of your pilgrimage, just another day on the henro trail of life.