Ryozenji Temple in Tokushima Japan

The 88 temple pilgrimage around Shikoku Japan has been a popular routes for Shingon Buddhism pilgrims for hundreds to over a thousand years, and recently a travel theme for Shikoku Japan. The history began in the early 8th century (804) when a Buddhist monk named Kūkai (空海) travelled to China (now Xian) to acquire teachings of Escoteric Bhuddhism from Huiguo, one of two Buddhist masters who was a favorite student of the legendary Amoghavajra from India.

Kūkai (空海) returned to Japan and started to practice Escoteric Buddhism. He was favored by Emperor Junna, the 53rd Emperor Japan, at the time and the term Shingon-Shū (真言宗 Mantra School) was officially coined. In 816, Kūkai established his first monastery, Kongobu-ji in Mount Kōya (高野山), which is part of the UNESCO Pilgrimage Route in Japan. In 823, To-ji in Kyoto was presented to Kukai and was declared an Esoteric temple that would perform official rites for the state. Shingon Buddhism (真言宗) became very popular for the next several hundred years.

Kūkai or Kōbō-Daishi (弘法大師) was born in Kagawa prefecture Japan. When he was young, he travelled around Shikoku, practicing in caves, mountains and forests. He was enlightened in a cave along the coast of Kochi, south of Shikoku Japan. There was a saying that his name “Kukai” meaning “Sky.Sea” was what he saw inside the cave.

There are lots of stories about Kukai as you travel around Shikoku. The 88 temples were identified to have association with Kukai. Even though you may not be a pilgrim of Escoteric Buddhism, you will still visit some of the 88 temples because many are historical sites and recommended as tourist attractions.

Ryozenji Temple 竺和山 靈山寺
Locating in the northeast of Shikoku and close to Kyoto, Ryozenji temple was the first in no. of the 88 temples in Shikoko. That’s where most of the pilgrims start their 1,200 kilometers journey.
Ryozenji Temple 靈山寺
The first statue on the left after the wooden gate stood the Goddess of Mercy. To make a wish for better romance, business, health, and harmonies, you may simply get a bucket to splash water onto the statue.
Ryozenji Temple 靈山寺
There is a fish pond in the middle. Visitors would toss coins to the little buddha statues in the middle of the pond to try their luck.
Ryozenji Temple 靈山寺
Master’s Hall is designated for Kukai who was also called Kōbō-Daishi (弘法大師 Great Master of the Propagation of Dharma).
Ryozenji Temple 靈山寺
The main hall features a solemn ceiling with rows of lanterns and a golden dragon painting.
O-henro-san お遍路さん
Before you start your journey, you have to become a Pilgrims, known as o-henro-san (お遍路さん). The proper dress code is to wear a white jacket, a conical straw hat and a walking stick. Also carry a bag saying “2 people together” because the Master is always with you. You are not alone. You may buy all these supplies at the general office at the temple here.
Ryozenji Temple 靈山寺
Address: 126 Higashitsukahana, Bando, Oasa-cho, Naruto-shi
Tel: 088-689-1111
Access: About 10 minutes walk from JR Bando Station in Tokushima
交通:德島JR 板東站徒步約10分鐘

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