The Shikoku 88 Route

NOTE: It is with great joy that I announce that the pages about my visit to Shikoku's 88-Temple Pilgrimage has been moved from the old TheTempleGuy.com site to here, TheTempleGuy.org. Enjoy! (October, 2019)



This route is called in Japanese the Shikoku Hachijuha Kasho (四国八十八箇所) or the "Shikoku 88 Sacred Places"

Shikoku (四国) is the smallest of Japan's four major islands, and also the least populous. It is located across the narrow Inland Sea from the western end of the main island, Honshu, just east of Kyushu. For generations it has been the site of a 1,200-kilometer (750 mile) pilgrimage made up of 88 temples centering on the life of Kukai (空海), also called Kobo Daishi (弘法大師), or "Great Master Who Spreads Widely the Buddha's Teaching," perhaps Japan's greatest Buddhist monk. In 2001, I undertook the pilgrimage, mostly on foot.



"History": Shikoku is an island of legend. Oh, it really exists. But as a friend told me, it seems imbued with mystery. Every tree, every stone, seems to have a legend attached. Many of these center on Shikoku's most famous son, the monk Kukai (774-835).

The Daishi (and he is the Daishi, preeminent among many others) is said to have established the Pilgrimage to the 88 Temples of Shikoku. Scholars dispute it; believers don't care. That he lived here is certain; that he traveled extensively, and practiced religious rigors throughout the island, is also certain. Whether it was he or his followers (the members of the Buddhist Shingon sect), somebody established the pilgrimage, securing this smaller-than-New-Jersey island's place in World Buddhism.

As the stories surrounding the pilgrimage developed, the four provinces of the island each took on an attribute related to the pilgrim's progress. These are:
  • Tokushima Prefecture (formerly Awa Province): The Dojo (training room) of Awakening Faith
  • Kochi Prefecture (formerly Tosa Province): The Dojo of Religious Discipline
  • Ehime Prefecture (formerly Iyo Province): The Dojo of Enlightenment
  • Kagawa Prefecture (formerly Sanuki Province): The Dojo of Nirvana
Me with other pilgrims; note hat, stick, white top
In this age of pilgrimage by train, bus, and car, the significance of this progression--from Awakening, through Discipline, to Enlightenment and finally Nirvana--may have been lost. But friends tell me that recent television specials in Japan have centered on the idea that pilgrims are walking again, in greater numbers all the time. This is a sign of hope.

As you would expect of a tradition that has been around in more-or-less this form since the 14th century, the pilgrimage is knee-deep in lore. For example, the mundane name of the island--"Four Provinces"--is also a homophone for "Death Province." It is said that the ill (or simply unwanted) were sent here to tread the circuit repeatedly until death overtook them. That is why pilgrims wear white (the color of death in Japan), and carry both a stick and a hat with the pilgrim's name and hometown written in calligraphy. Thus, when the traveler succumbs, whoever happens upon his or her remains can bury them, and set up the stick and hat as a tombstone, however temporary. (I have mine in the front porch of my house for when I take that final journey.)




Schematic after the map published in the Shikoku book by Mangan-ji Temple (see Resources below)


The Route: This one is fairly straightforward--with one odd exception. As seen above, it runs in a clockwise direction, never straying too far from the coast. It starts in Tokushima Prefecture (23 temples), which was closest to the ferry from Koya-san, where Kobo Daishi's remains are enshrined (and the pilgrimage properly begins); continues through the island's largest Prefecture, Kochi (16 temples); next it runs up the island's west coast through Ehime Prefecture (26 temples); then it veers back into Tokushima for one temple; and finally enters Kagawa (23 temples), not only the island's, but the entire country's smallest prefecture.

Incidentally, this pilgrimage has a full complement of 20 bangais, or unnumbered temples beyond the 88. I will only list the four that I visited (plus two more important sites) on this page; however, I have done some research on the full list; you can see them all here.



My Approach: You can read the background of the entire adventure, my "Aki Meguri" (Autumn Journey), on the Tokaido Guide.

Specifically, this part of the trip differed from the Tokaido portion mainly in that I took trains and buses over long stretches of ground, and even went up some mountains by vehicle (once in a multi-purpose school bus, and once in a taxi!) The clock was ticking, I was getting tired, and… well… you know. Anyway, I would treasure the chance to go back and do the entire thing on foot, maybe in a milestone year--like when I turn 65? Or 70?



Kobo Daishi offers forgiveness for the rudeness of Emon Saburo,
the first pilgrim, just before Emon dies (it's a long story)
The List: Here are the temples in order, with the bangais I visited listed at the end (see a complete list of bangais here). Click the linked names to see my post about each temple; the "map" link shows the temple's location on Google Maps.

Tokushima Prefecture (formerly Awa Province)
  1. Ryozen-ji (霊山寺); Naruto, Tokushima (map); visited Sunday, October 14th, 2001 and Wednesday, November 14th, 2001 (to "close the circle" at the end of the pilgrimage)
  2. Gokuraku-ji (極楽寺); Naruto, Tokushima (map); visited Sunday, October 14th, 2001
  3. Konsen-ji (金泉寺); Itano, Tokushima (map); visited Sunday, October 14th, 2001
  4. Dainichi-ji (大日寺); Itano, Tokushima (map); visited Sunday, October 14th, 2001
  5. Jizo-ji (地蔵寺); Itano, Tokushima (map); visited Sunday, October 14th, 2001
  6. Anraku-ji (安楽寺); Kamiita, Tokushima (map); visited Monday, October 15th, 2001
  7. Juraku-ji (十楽寺); Awa, Tokushima (map); visited Monday, October 15th, 2001
  8. Kumadani-ji (熊谷寺); Awa, Tokushima (map); visited Monday, October 15th, 2001
  9. Horin-ji (法輪寺); Awa, Tokushima (map); visited Monday, October 15th, 2001
  10. Kirihata-ji (切幡寺); Awa, Tokushima (map); visited Monday, October 15th, 2001
  11. Fujii-dera (藤井寺); Yoshinogawa, Tokushima (map); visited Tuesday, October 16th, 2001
  12. Shosan-ji (焼山寺); Kamiyama, Tokushima (map); visited Thursday, October 18th, 2001
  13. Dainichi-ji (大日寺); Tokushima, Tokushima (map); visited Tuesday, October 16th, 2001
  14. Joraku-ji (常楽寺); Tokushima, Tokushima (map); visited Tuesday, October 16th, 2001
  15. Awa Kokubun-ji (阿波国分寺); Tokushima, Tokushima (map); visited Tuesday, October 16th, 2001
  16. Kannon-ji (観音寺); Tokushima, Tokushima (map); visited Tuesday, October 16th, 2001
  17. Ido-ji (井戸寺); Tokushima, Tokushima (map); visited Wednesday, October 17th, 2001
  18. Onzan-ji (恩山寺); Komatsushima, Tokushima (map); visited Wednesday, October 17th, 2001
  19. Tatsue-ji (立江寺); Komatsushima, Tokushima (map); visited Saturday, October 20th, 2001
  20. Kakurin-ji (鶴林寺); Katsuura, Tokushima (map); visited Saturday, October 20th, 2001
  21. Tairyu-ji (太龍寺); Anan, Tokushima (map); visited Sunday, Sunday, October 21st, 2001
  22. Byodo-ji (平等寺); Anan, Tokushima (map); visited Friday, October 19th, 2001
  23. Yakuo-ji (薬王寺); Minami, Tokushima (map); visited Friday, October 19th, 2001
Kochi Prefecture (formerly Tosa Province)
  1. Hotsumisaki-ji (最御崎寺); Muroto, Kochi (map); visited Tuesday, October 23rd, 2001
  2. Shinsho-ji (津照寺); Muroto, Kochi (map); visited Tuesday, October 23rd, 2001
  3. Kongocho-ji (金剛頂寺); Muroto, Kochi (map); visited Wednesday, October 24th, 2001
  4. Konomine-ji (神峰寺); Yasuda, Kochi (map); visited Wednesday, October 24th, 2001
  5. Dainichi-ji (大日寺); Konan, Kochi (map); visited Wednesday, October 24th, 2001
  6. Tosa Kokubun-ji (土佐国分寺); Nankoku, Kochi (map); visited Thursday, October 25th, 2001
  7. Zenraku-ji (善楽寺); Kochi, Kochi (map); visited Thursday, October 25th, 2001
  8. Chikurin-ji (竹林寺); Kochi, Kochi (map); visited Thursday, October 25th, 2001
  9. Zenjibu-ji (禅師峰寺); Nankoku, Kochi (map); visited Thursday, October 25th, 2001
  10. Sekkei-ji (雪蹊寺); Kochi, Kochi (map); visited Friday, October 26th, 2001
  11. Tanema-ji (種間寺); Haruno, Kochi (map); visited Friday, October 26th, 2001
  12. Kiyotaki-ji (清滝寺); Tosa, Kochi (map); visited Friday, October 26th, 2001
  13. Shoryu-ji (青竜寺); Tosa, Kochi (map); visited Friday, October 26th, 2001
  14. Iwamoto-ji (岩本寺); Shimanto, Kochi (map); visited Sunday, October 28th, 2001
  15. Kongofuku-ji (金剛福寺); Tosashimizu, Kochi (map); visited Saturday, October 27th, 2001
  16. Enko-ji (延光寺); Sukumo, Kochi (map); visited Sunday, October 28th, 2001
Ehime Prefecture (formerly Iyo Province)
  1. Kanjizai-ji (観自在寺); Ainan, Ehime (map); visited Sunday, October 28th, 2001
  2. Ryuko-ji (竜光寺); Uwajima, Ehime (map); visited Sunday, October 28th, 2001
  3. Butsumoku-ji (佛木寺); Uwajima, Ehime (map); visited Sunday, October 28th, 2001
  4. Meiseki-ji (明石寺); Seiyo, Ehime (map); visited Monday, October 29th, 2001
  5. Daiho-ji (大宝寺); Kumakogen, Ehime (map); visited Tuesday, October 30th, 2001
  6. Iwaya-ji (岩屋寺); Kumakogen, Ehime (map); visited Tuesday, October 30th, 2001
  7. Joruri-ji (浄瑠璃寺); Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001
  8. Yasaka-ji (八坂寺); Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001
  9. Sairin-ji (西林寺); Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001
  10. Jodo-ji (浄土寺); Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001
  11. Hanta-ji (繁多寺); Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001
  12. Ishite-ji (石手寺); Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001
  13. Taisan-ji (太山寺); Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Thursday, November 1st, 2001
  14. Enmyo-ji (圓明寺); Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Thursday, November 1st, 2001
  15. Enmei-ji (延命寺); Imabari, Ehime (map); visited Friday, November 2nd, 2001
  16. Nanko-bo (南光坊); Imabari, Ehime (map); visited Friday, November 2nd, 2001
  17. Taisan-ji (泰山寺); Imabari, Ehime (map); visited Friday, November 2nd, 2001
  18. Eifuku-ji (栄福寺); Imabari, Ehime (map); visited Saturday, November 3rd, 2001
  19. Senyu-ji (仙遊寺); Imabari, Ehime (map); visited Saturday, November 3rd, 2001
  20. Iyo Kokubun-ji (伊予国分寺); Imabari, Ehime (map); visited Saturday, November 3rd, 2001
  21. Yokomine-ji (横峰寺); Saijo, Ehime (map); visited Monday, November 5th, 2001
  22. Koon-ji (香園寺); Saijo, Ehime (map); visited Sunday, November 4th, 2001
  23. Hoju-ji (宝寿寺); Saijo, Ehime (map); visited Sunday, November 4th, 2001
  24. Kichijo-ji (吉祥寺); Saijo, Ehime (map); visited Sunday, November 4th, 2001
  25. Maegami-ji (前神寺); Saijo, Ehime (map); visited Sunday, November 4th, 2001
  26. Sankaku-ji (三角寺); Shikokuchuo, Ehime (map); visited Monday, November 5th, 2001
Kagawa Prefecture (formerly Sanuki Province)
  1. Unpen-ji (雲辺寺); Miyoshi, Tokushima (map); visited Tuesday, November 6th, 2001 (actually over a mountain in Tokushima)
  2. Daiko-ji (大興寺); Mitoyo, Kagawa (map); visited Tuesday, November 6th, 2001
  3. Jinne-in (神恵院); Kan'onji, Kagawa (map); visited Wednesday, November 7th, 2001
  4. Kannon-ji (観音寺); Kan'onji, Kagawa (map); visited Wednesday, November 7th, 2001
  5. Motoyama-ji (本山寺); Mitoyo, Kagawa (map); visited Wednesday, November 7th, 2001
  6. Iyadani-ji (弥谷寺); Mitoyo, Kagawa (map); visited Thursday, November 8th, 2001
  7. Mandara-ji (曼荼羅寺); Zentsuji, Kagawa (map); visited Thursday, November 8th, 2001
  8. Shusshaka-ji (出釈迦寺); Zentsuji, Kagawa (map); visited Thursday, November 8th, 2001
  9. Koyama-ji (甲山寺); Zentsuji, Kagawa (map); visited Thursday, November 8th, 2001
  10. Zentsu-ji (善通寺); Zentsuji, Kagawa (map); visited Thursday, November 8th, 2001
  11. Konzo-ji (金倉寺); Zentsuji, Kagawa (map); visited Friday, November 9th, 2001
  12. Doryu-ji (道隆寺); Tadotsu, Kagawa (map); visited Friday, November 9th, 2001
  13. Gosho-ji (郷照寺); Utazu, Kagawa (map); visited Friday, November 9th, 2001
  14. Tenno-ji (天皇寺); Sakaide, Kagawa (map); visited Friday, November 9th, 2001
  15. Sanuki Kokubun-ji (讃岐国分寺); Takamatsu, Kagawa (map); visited Friday, November 9th, 2001
  16. Shiromine-ji (白峯寺); Sakaide, Kagawa (map); visited Saturday, November 10th, 2001
  17. Negoro-ji (根香寺); Takamatsu, Kagawa (map); visited Saturday, November 10th, 2001
  18. Ichinomiya-ji (一宮寺); Takamatsu, Kagawa (map); visited Sunday, November 11th, 2001
  19. Yashima-ji (屋島寺); Takamatsu, Kagawa (map); visited Monday, November 12th, 2001
  20. Yakuri-ji (八栗寺); Takamatsu, Kagawa (map); visited Monday, November 12th, 2001
  21. Shido-ji (志度寺); Sanuki, Kagawa (map); visited Monday, November 12th, 2001
  22. Nagao-ji (長尾寺); Sanuki, Kagawa (map); visited Tuesday, November 13th, 2001
  23. Okubo-ji (大窪寺); Sanuki, Kagawa (map); visited Tuesday, November 13th, 2001
  • Bangai #4: Saba Daishi (鯖大師本), where a man's horse became ill after the man refused a mackeral to Kobo Daishi; Sabase Station, Tokushima (map); visited Sunday, October 21st, 2001 (after visiting Temple #21)
  • Bangai #8: Juya-bashi (十夜ヶ橋) also called Toyoga-hashi Bridge, where Kobo Daishi had to sleep outside because he had been refused lodging; Ozu, Ehime (map); visited Monday, October 29th, 2001 (after visiting Temple #43)
  • Bangai #9: Monju-in (文珠院), where Emon Saburo insulted Kobo Daishi; Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001 (between visiting temples #47 and 48)
  • Bangai: Fudahajime Daishi-do (札始大師堂) where Kobo Daishi was staying when Emon Saburo insulted him; Matsuyama, Ehime (map); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001 (after bangai #9)
  • Bangai: Hachitsuka Gunshu Kofun (八ッ塚群集古墳, The "Eight Hills Group of Burial Mounds"), where Emon Saburo's sons are buried; Matsuyama, Ehime (map) (look north of placemark); visited Wednesday, October 31st, 2001 (after Fudahajime Daishi-do)
  • Bangai #18: Kaigan-ji (海岸寺), where Kobo Daishi was born; Tadotsu, Kagawa (map); visited Friday, November 9th, 2001 (before setting out to Temple #76)
(See a complete list of bangais here.)



Resources: The list and coordinates came from the Wikipedia article Shikoku Pilgrimage.

The guidebook I used is in Japanese, but the maps are easily understood. It's called Shikoku Hachijuhachi Kasho O Aruku, and by the "Henro Michi Hozon Kyoryoku Kai," the name of a pilgrimage group. Other excellent guidebooks include Ed Readicker-Henderson's The Traveler's Guide to Japanese Pilgrimages (in English), which I also used on the Saigoku circuit; and Manganji's green guide (in Japanese), available from Koji Junrei Company, 9882-1 Tennodai, Choshi-shi, Chiba-ken 175, JAPAN. This company publishes guides for over 20 other pilgrimages in Japan; the easiest way to get them is at temple #1 on any particular route.

Online guides include those by Jeffrey Hackler, Akiko Takemoto and Steve McCarty, David L. Turkington, and Don Weiss's Echoes of Incense (with its own resources page). [Note: These were listed on the original "The Temple Guy" site; not one of the links is alive in 2019. I have researched and replaced them--all still available, but not in the same location. Dave Turkington's site, Shikoku Henro Trail, is extensive, and a must-read for those planning to do it themselves; in fact, I found an article by Jeffrey Hackler, and Don Weiss's excellent book, both on Dave's site! I should add David C. Moreton's site, Canada Henro; Dave Morton, Dave Turkington, and others have become Facebook friends in this new age; that site has several pages on the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

The classic book on Shikoku's pilgrimage in English is Oliver Statler's Japanese Pilgrimage. I'm almost embarrassed to write about my experiences after reading this book (repeatedly). Used copies can easily be found A not-so-classic but extremely entertaining book is Tales of a Summer Henro by Craig McLachlan. This is available used, or inexpensively on Kindle.

For the religious perspective on the pilgrimage, nothing comes close to A Henro Pilgrimage to the 88 Temples of Shikoku Island Japan by Bishop Taisen Miyata. He's a Shingon Buddhist priest in Los Angeles who first performed the pilgrimage on foot in 1955 (the most recent Bishop-led tour I can find was in 2014). He has since guided numerous tours of American Buddhists, and the book is both a devotional guide and a collection of legends about each temple. [I was stunned to discover that, as of March 2019, one used copy is available on Amazon--for $3,566.91! I'll let you have mine for just $3,000--after I photocopy it!]



Google Map:

Controls:
  • Use + /- or mouse wheel to zoom in and out.
  • Click to close the hand to move around.
  • (The two functions above are accomplished with two fingers on mobile devices.)
  • Click the square-with-arrow on the left to open or close the index of sites. (Works better if you zoom in first.)
  • Click the three-dot thingy to share the map with others.
  • Click the "four corners" in the upper right to go to the full map.
Note: Temples are in orange; bangais are in purple.



Last updated Mar. 18, 2019

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