Ryōzen-ji, First Temple of the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

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This is the Sanmon (山門) of Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), The first Temple of the 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage (四国遍路). On the left an ohenro-san (pilgrim) dressed in the traditional conical hat, white robe, along with the customary wooden staff and cloth bag.

This is the Sanmon (山門) of Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), The first Temple of the 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage (四国遍路). On the left an ohenro-san (pilgrim) dressed in the traditional conical hat, white robe, along with the customary wooden staff and cloth bag.

Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺):

Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺) is the starting point of the Sacred 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage Sites (四国八十八ヶ所巡り) in Tokushima, Japan. This temple is grouped with the “Hosshin no Dōjō” (発心 の 道場) or “Dōjō to Awaken Your Faith” comprising of temples 1 to 23.
It has a store where you can buy the necessary items to start the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Yūben Shinnen (宥辡 真念) identified Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺) as the first place of the “Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage” in his book “Shikoku Henro Road Guide” (四国遍路道しるべ) of 1687. And from then on this has been closely followed.

History of Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺):

Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺) is a Kōya-san Shingon temple in Naruto, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan. The first Temple of the 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage sites (四国遍路). Founded by Gyōki (行基) during the Tenpyō era (天平 729 – 749) at the request of Emperor Shōmu (聖武天皇).
Kōbō Daishi (弘法大師) visited this temple in the year 815 and stayed at here for 37 days. During his stay, he had a vision of Shaka Nyorai (釈迦如来) preaching the Lotus Sutra on “Vulture’s Peak” (Ryōjusan). He then carved a statue of Shaka Nyorai (釈迦如来), which is the Honzon (本尊) or principal image of this temple.
Chōsokabe Motochika (長宗我部元親), who was a daimyo during the Sengoku period (戦国時代), burned this temple to the ground. The current structures date back to 1964.

Musings about Ryōzen-ji:

In front of the Sanmon (山門) of Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), an ohenro-san (pilgrim) dressed in the traditional conical hat, white robe, along with the customary wooden staff and cloth bag.

In front of the Sanmon (山門) of Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), an ohenro-san (pilgrim) dressed in the traditional conical hat, white robe, along with the customary wooden staff and cloth bag.

It being the first temple on the Shikoku Pilgrimage it is a busy place. While I was there a few buses arrived in the parking lot. It’s here that you purchase the different items to start your journey. The temple grounds are spacious and statues of Kōbō Daishi (弘法大師) can be found in different places. As they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words, you can view all pictures here: Sacred 88 Shikoku Pilgrimage Sites.

Kōbō Daishi (弘法大師)

Kūkai (空海), also known posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi (弘法大師), 774–835, was a Japanese monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist, founder of the Shingon or “True Word” school of Buddhism.
Kūkai is famous as a calligrapher and engineer. Among the many achievements attributed to him is the invention of the kana, the syllabary with which, in combination with Chinese characters (kanji), the Japanese language is written to this day.

Additional info on the Shikoku Pilgrimage:

There are different ways to complete the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Of course walking is the most challenging and takes time. You can rent a bike or a motor bike, making it a bit easier. Please note there are many hill in Shikoku. I’ve noticed that quite a few people, either couples or friends, use their car to visit the temples. Perhaps you can hitch a ride?
You can order a map by writing an email to: info@shikoku.gr.jp. Here is the link to the official Tokushima Tourism Site.
Shikoku consists of four provinces and each has a cluster of sacred temples. You always pick one province either along the sea side or the more adventurous mountain side.

Links to the first 23 temples on the 88 Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage:

Shikoku Pilgrimage: 88 Sacred Sites in Japan.
Gokuraku-ji: Second Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.
Konsen-ji: Third Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage. UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Dainichi-ji: Fourth Temple of the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage. UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Jizō-ji: Fifth Temple of the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage. UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Anrakuji: Sixth Temple of the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage. UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Jūraku-ji: Seventh Temple of the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage. UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Kumadani-ji: Eight Temple of the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage. UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Hōrin-ji: Ninth Temple of the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage. UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Kirihata-ji: Tenth Temple of the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Statue of Fudō Myō-ō (不動明王) at Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Statue of Fudō Myō-ō (不動明王) at Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

13 stone pagoda in front and two-storied Pagoda (多宝塔) in the back at Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

13 stone pagoda in front and two-storied Pagoda (多宝塔) in the back at Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Jūsanbutsu-dō (十三佛堂) at Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage. The Jūsanbutsu-dō includes five Buddha (仏), seven Bodhisattva (菩薩), and one Myō-ō (明王). These 13 Buddhist deities are important to the Shingon school of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism.

Jūsanbutsu-dō (十三佛堂) at Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.
The Jūsanbutsu-dō includes five Buddha (仏), seven Bodhisattva (菩薩), and one Myō-ō (明王). These 13 Buddhist deities are important to the Shingon school of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism.

A small pond with Japanese koi at Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

A small pond with Japanese koi at Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Buddhist statues in the precinct of Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Buddhist statues in the precinct of Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺), the first Temple on the Sacred Shikoku Pilgrimage.

Some books available at Amazon about the Shikoku Pilgrimage: (buying through amazon helps support my website, Thank you!)


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