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88 sacred Temples of Shikoku

Shikoku Henro

Originally, the Buddhist saint, Kukai, also known as Kobo Daishi  - the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism - made pilgrimages during his novitiate period to the 88 temples which are found throughout Shikoku.

Many stories and myths surround Daishi’s accomplishments. But among his many admirable traits, skills, and powers, Kobo Daishi was also credited with introducing many aspects of Chinese culture into Japan, including a system of measures, various Chinese medicines, the growth and processing of tea, as well as architectural knowledge. Kobo-daishi has sometimes been dubbed a "father" of Japan.

In his search for spiritual truth and enlightenment, Kobo-daishi roamed from the rocky shorelines of Shikoku, to the tops of its mountains, so today his followers often make the pilgrimage by foot.

It is said that making the pilgrimage, now known as Shikoku henro to these 88 sacred temples will make the 88 bonno, or the ’evil passions’ disappear and make wishes come true. Ohenro san, or pilgrims dressed in white, carrying wooden staffs can be seen in many places around this area. The route stretches 1,400 kilometers in total, and it takes 40 to 50 days to visit all the temples on foot, 10 to 12 days if travelling by car. There are rooms called shukubo, for pilgrims as well as general visitors to stay in each temple.
In Kagawa Prefecture, there are 23 temples in all, beginning with Unpenji, the 66th of the 88 through to the very last one, Okuboji temple which is known as the Temple of Vow Fulfillment.

One pilgrim hotspot is Kotohira, or Konpirasan, a combined shrine and temple which can only be reached by climbing hundreds of stone steps (as in over 800 gruelling, exhausting ones). The reward isn’t that phenomenal, but to say you did it, "you and Daishi going together" as it were, may be worth it.


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