The 38th Sacred Place on the 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage. In the Kojin era (810-824) Kobodaishi Kukai, who had been traveling around Shikoku, perceived the presence of Senju Kannon (Kannon with 1,000 arms) at this place. After returning to Kyoto, he reported to the Imperial court that Cape Ashizuri, which is located in the southernmost part of Shikoku, was certainly the Western Paradise described in Kannon Sutra; thereby Emperor Saga bestowed him with the frame inscribed with “The Eastern Gate of the Kannon Paradise.” Later in 822, the temple buildings were constructed and the statue of Senju Kannon was placed. The plaque hung on Niomon Gate was calligraphed by Emperor Saga himself. In the late Heian period (794-1192) the temple was visited by a lot of Kannon worshippers. In the precinct is Gyakushuto (a stone pagoda built prior to one’s death) erected by a famous Heian poet, Izumi Shikibu.
The route from the 37th Sacred Place, Iwamotoji Temple, to Kongofukuji Temple is about 88 km, which is the longest interval on the Shikoku Pilgrimage Route. Leaving Iwamotoji Temple in Shimanto Town, you will go through the old town of Nakamura, which is called “Kyoto in Tosa,” cross the Shimanto River, go over Izuta Pass, then go through the towns of Shimonokae, Iburi, and Tosa-Shimizu, where you will take the route along the ocean, pass through the town of Kubotsu and Cape Inarizaki, and you will get to Cape Ashizuri at last. The road comes very close to the ocean near the tip of the cape. From here, going through the groves of fig trees (Ficus superba Miq. var. japonica Miq.) and wild camellia trees, you will see the huge 120,000 sq m precinct of Kongofukuji Temple.
Tado Taisha is a shrine located in Tado-cho, Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture. Its tutelary deity is Amatsu-hikone, the 3rd child of the sun goddess Amaterasu-Ookami.
Because it enshrines one of the sons of Amaterasu-Ookami, the shrine has a strong connection with the Ise Grand Shrine, as can be seen from the famous poem: 'If you come to Ise Shrine to worship, then you should visit Tado Shrine, too. If you don't, then your visit will only be half of what it could be.'
The shrine is also commonly known as Kita-ise-daijinja, Tado-daijinja, and so on. In the case of Tado Taisha, the name stands for Tado-jinja as the main structure, combined with other additional minor small shrines in the vicinity. From ancient times, Mt Tado (403m) has been worshipped as a divine mountain, as can be seen from the Iwakura (sacred stone) found halfway up the mountain.
The shrine is said to have been first constructed in the mid-5th century during the reign of Emperor Yuuryaku. It was burned down by Nobunaga Oda in 1571, but rebuilt in 1605 by Tadakatsu Honda. The shrine holds seven National Important Cultural Assets including Tado-kyou, Jingu-jigaran-engi-narabini-shizai-chou, and others.
The path to the Inner Shrine (Kotai Jingu, or Naiku) of the Ise Grand Shrine crosses the Uji-bashi Bridge. The Ise Grand Shrine is near the town of Ise in Mie Prefecture. The bridge is also known as the Mimozuso-bashi and is not associated in any way with the Uji-bashi Bridge in Kyoto.
Made of cypress wood, the bridge spans the Suzukawa River, and is 101.8m long and 8.42m wide. It used to be rebuilt each year during a ceremony known as Shikinen Sengu, when the transfer of a deity took place. During World War II, there was a time gap, and after that, the bridge was rebuilt every four years for the Sengu.
Two torii gateway, standing 7.44m high, are placed at either end of the bridge. The outer torii is made from the old pillars of the Geguu-Seiden (Outer Shrine Main Hall) and the inner torii is made from the old pillars of the Naiku-Seiden (Inner Shrine Main Hall). When the Uji-bashi is rebuilt, the outer torii becomes the torii of the Kuwana-no-nanasato-no-Watashi and the outer torii becomes the torii of the Suzukatouge-no-kan-no-Oiwake. These torii must endeavor to function as building materials for a total of 60 years.
The Uji-bashi acts as a spiritual bridge and is said to sit on the border between the world and a holy place.
Oharai-machi is a town located at the main entrance to the Ise Shrine in Mie prefecture. The town is famous for its array of traditional souvenir shops and restaurants.
Oharai-machi extends from Uji Bridge, near the inner shrine, along the Isuzukawa river. It grew and developed into a town beginning from the main torii (gateway) at the entrance to the shrine, and up to the Naiku (the inner shrine).
Oharai-machi has a wide variety of stores, including gabled souvenir shops, shops for mothers- and wives-to-be, famous longstanding candy stores, as well as inns and hotels. Many historic buildings can be found here, including the shrine dojo (training center) and the house of the master of religious rites.
Some 800m from Uji Bridge, in one corner of the town, was where the Okage-mairi (pilgrims arrival path to the shrine) once flourished in the Edo period. This road has since been restored as a resort spot lined with souvenir shops and restaurants, which has become known today as the Okage-yokocho (Okage Lane).
Time passes quickly as one walks past the town's traditional restaurants and souvenir shops lining the roadsides of Oharai. Indeed, Oharai-machi is a place where you can forget time, and appreciate the pure enjoyment and gratifications the town has to offer.
The Ookubo-ji is a temple located in Sanuki-shi, Kagawa Prefecture, and is the eighty-eighth temple of the eighty-eight pilgrimage sites scattered across Shikoku (smallest of the four main islands of Japan).
These eighty-eight pilgrimage sites were established by Kobo-Daishi Kukai (Japanese monk, scholar, poet and artist) as places of enlightenment and training, and also as holy places for people to get rid of their misfortunes and sorrows.
It is said that the number 'eighty-eight' represents the number of worldly desires humans have, and that by navigating the eighty-eight pilgrimage sites, a pilgrim can be liberated from these desires while his true ambitions and hopes can be granted.
The eighty-eighth temple, the Ookubo-ji, is considered to be the final destination of the religious process. At this temple, the deity of the Buddha of Healing (Yakushi-nyorai) is enshrined. Normally, the statue is holding a medicine vase in his right hand, but the statue at this temple is holding a triton. This is because the triton is supposed to strike away people's suffering and distress.
A gorgeous double Tahoutou pagoda stands behind the main temple. Even further behind the site, lies a cave in which Kukai reputedly trained. Pilgrims who cleanse themselves of the eighty-eight desires and finish the whole religious process at this temple, leave their canes here as a tribute and to show that they have safely finished the transformation. The number of canes left at the temple is innumerable.
Ryozenji is a temple belonging to the Koya school of the Shingon sect. The temple is dedicated to Gotama Siddhattha. It is the first temple on the Shikoku pilgrimage.
The Emperor Shōmu initiated construction of this temple after its inauguration by Gyōki Bosattsu in the Tenpyo period. In 815, Kōbō Daishi stayed here for 21 days and practiced his ascetic training. Later he invoked the creation of the 88-temple Shikoku pilgrimage. It is believed that during his training, he carved the Gotama Siddhattha figure, marking it as the first point on the pilgrimage. He founded schools that could teach the Taizoukai Mandala of the Dainichi Nyorai buddha in the Shikoku area. Each of the four regions of Shikoku was to establish schools of religion, training, Buddhahood and Nirvana.
He founded a total of 88 schools. Ryozenji was destroyed by fire at one point, but rebuilt and remains today a magnificent example of architecture.
Nowadays it is known as the starting point of the Shikoku pilgrimage. Throughout the year, it is crowded with pilgrims wearing the sedge hat and white costume of the henro.
Sojiji Temple in Ibaragi City, Osaka Pref. is a Shingonshu (a sect of Buddhism) temple, which was founded by Chunagon Fujiwara no Yamakage in the Heian period (794−1192). In Konjakumonogatari-shu (Tales of Times Now Past) and Genpei Seisui Ki (The rise and fall of Genji and Heike), an anecdote about the foundation of the temple is written. One day Yamakage’s father saved a turtle that was bullied by fishermen. The next day when Yamakage was drowning, the turtle came to save him in return. So Yamakage decide to build the temple to express his gratitude to Kannon (the goddess of mercy). It is Temple 22 of Saigoku 33 Pilgrim Route, along which pilgrims go around temples and worship Kannonkyo (a scripture honoring Kannon). The principal image of Senju-Sengan Kanzeon (the Thousand Armed and Thousand Eyed Kanzeon) is known as “Kannon on the turtle” and worshipped as the deity of child-raising and purification of the evil. Many other gods and deities are also worshipped at this temple including Yakushinyorai (the Healing Buddha), Jizoubosatsu (the guardian deity of children), Fudomyoou (God of Fire), Kobo-Daishi (Monk Kukai), and Inari Daimyojin (Fox Deity).