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
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
|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
Memoirs of the 46th temple, Joruriji
Memoirs of the 47th temple, Yasakaji
| 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
| 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
| 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.
Long ago, there lived in this neighborhood a man called
Emon Saburo. He was very rich but all he wanted was to be
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
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
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.
For your information
|Imaginary stone statues of Emon and wife||
Emon leaving his house
Monjuin-temple, where Emon is said tohave lived.
Ishiteji-temple (51st of 88 temples)
Eight Burial Mounds