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.