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.


 
   

Memoirs of the 46th temple, Joruriji


Memoirs of the 47th temple, Yasakaji

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.