The Shikoku Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage known as Shikoku Henro or O-Shikoku-san is the oldest and most famous in Japan.
Making the round of the island via the 88 temples designated as the Sacred Places of Shikoku is
meant to follow the trail Kobo Daishi (Kukai) walked in his youth for ascetic practice, searching for
the Truth.

These days most of pilgrims still walk around the island like Kukai did long time ago.
It takes nearly 40 days to finish walking about 1,400 kilometers, going deep into rugged mountains,
plodding along lonely roads for tens of kilometers. It is real walking Zen.
You will be sure to receive warm hospitality and hearty kindness from people along the roads.

The Shikoku Pilgrimage is nonsectarian, though Kukai was the founder of the Shingon Sect of the
Japanese Buddhism.


 
 So many pilgrims make use of coach buses these days.    Chanting a Buddhist sutra 
   
 A nice couple from Niigata Prefecture.  The public broadcast NHK filmed a pilgrimage story
  in 2013.

Memoirs of the 46th temple, Joruriji


Memoirs of the 47th temple, Yasakaji




Don't miss a chance to see some historical relics while walking down
the pilgrimage road from the pass to the river
that divides Kutani from Matsuyama

 
  An inn for pilgrims, which is said to have been built
  in 1910's
. On Saturdays and Sundays volunteers still
  offer hospitality to pilgrims.
Its name is Sakamotoya.
 At this place Kobo-daishi saw two big rocks that  obstructed
 the  road. He tried to remove them.
 One of them fell into the river but this one has sat here
 ever since.
   
 An ordinary guide board for pilgrims.
 This one was set in front of Joruri-ji
 Temple in 1907. Written in hiragana letters.
 This is the second oldest guide board in Shikoku
 District, which was  set in 1865.
 The direction finger, unlike others, is open-handed.
 Written in Chinese characters and in one
 hiragana letter.
   
 Monjuin temple, where the first pilgrim Emon Saburo
 was born and met the sacred priest Kobodaishi.
 Fudahajime chapel, where Kobodaishi was caught
 in a  shower and had to spend overnight before
 crossing the river. A wooden statue of Daishi is set
 inside the house.



The story of Emon Saburo

 
  
Long ago, there lived in this neighborhood a man called 
  Emon Saburo. He was very rich but all he wanted was to be
  richer still.
 
  One winter day, a wandering monk came over to his
  gate,
prayed and held out his begging bowl to appeal
  for some
food. Saburo coldly refused him.
  The next day the same priest came again, but Saburo
  angrily drove him away.
  But the priest kept returning.

  On the 8the day Saburo went at him with a stick, struck him,   dashing his bowl to the ground.


 
  The priest came no more. On the next day, however,
  the oldest of Saburo’s sons passed away, and the next day   another.
   
  Eight days passed, and every one of his eight children
  was gone, to his grief and horror. 
  Saburo then realized how wrong headed and evil he had been.
  What he had to do, he determined, was to go find that holy man
  and beg absolution.


 




  Soon he was following the monk’s trail,
  asking for alms, begging for food himself every day
.







  He went around and around Shikoku
  Island for four years, but in vain

    Having already made 20 rounds, he decided to
  make one   more round
in the reverse direction,
  instead of trying to   catch up with the monk.

    His health was failing, but he had to keep searching.
  On his way to Shozan-ji temple (in Tokushima
  Prefecture)   deep in the mountains, Saburo fell down,
  ready to die.
    At that moment, Kobo Daishi, the priest he had been searching   for,   appeared before him. The saint, knowing everything,
  forgave   Saburo, saying his sincere repentance had washed
  away  his sins.
    Greatly relieved, the man was about to close his
  eyes.   The Daishi asked if he had a last wish.
  He answered   that he would like to reborn as
  the lord of Iyo District   (his home province,
  the present Ehime  prefecture)  to have the power
  to do great good  for his people.
  The Daishi picked up a small stone and wrote
  something   on it, and pressed the stone into
  the dying man’s   left hand.

    Some time later the wife of the lord of Iyo gave birth
  to  a baby boy whose left hand would not open.
  Everyone tried everuthing but in vain.
  At last they called in the head priest of their temple
  Anyo-ji. He chanted powerful prayers and finally
  the baby's hand  opened.
  Inside was a small stone and on it was written
  "Emon Saburo Reborn."
    To memorize this mysterious event, the name of
  the temple   was  changed to Ishite-ji or
Stone-Hand
  temple

  Believers can see the stone in the Temple’sTreasure
  House  on  special days.
  Emon Saburo, who went around and around Shikoku
  searching  for Daishi, is considered to be the first to
  have made  the Shikoku  Pilgrimage
.
 

 This tomb is said that Emon Saburo  was buried.
 The location is in Awa Province,   the present  Tokushima Prefecture.


For your information

   Imaginary stone statues of Emon and wife

   Emon leaving his house

   Monjuin-temple, where Emon is said to

   have lived.

    Ishiteji-temple (51st of 88 temples)


 Eight Burial Mounds

Legend has it that Emon's eight children were buried in
the following eight burial mounds.