Aki Meguri Shikoku
October 25th, 2001 (Thursday):
Temples 29, 30, 31 and 32
Note: In the original Aki
Meguri pages, the Shikoku stage had no journal entries. Rather,
my thoughts and feelings were incorporated into the "Logbook,"
so you won't find separate journal entries here, as in the Old
Tokaido and Yamato stages.
|This almost never happens: I actually
exceeded my goal for today. I planned on seeing three temples, and
prepared accordingly. But I had time to make it to a fourth!
In addition, today I passed the one-third point in terms of temples.
(Number 29 is one-third of 87; Number 30 is one-third of 90. Since
the pilgrimage has 88 temples, I passed the one-third point between
Number 29 and Number 30.)
So tonight I celebrated. But I'm
getting ahead of myself.
For the first time since I came to Kochi
City last Monday, I took a train today. Three times.
First, I took the train from Kochi to
Gomen. (Japanese speakers: make your own joke here. The rest
of you, "gomen" means "I'm sorry.")
From the station, it's a 3-kilometer walk to the temple.
Kokubunji (The Official State Temple)
Honzon: Senju Kannon Bosatsu (Avalokitesvara with a thousand
You can read about the "Kokubunji
concept" back at Number
15, the Kokubunji for the former Awa-no-kuni, now Tokushima
prefecture. This one is for Tosa-no-kuni, now called Kochi
Ed Readicker-Henderson was lamenting
that this old temple was going to be renovated, and lose some of its
charm. I saw no evidence of this work, or of the excavation he
described in front of the hondo. I don't know if this mean
plans have changed, or if they're just moving slowly.
There's not much else to say.
This temple has no "founding legend" because, like every
Kokubunji, it is founded on historical fact!
I returned to the station and took the
train three stations back toward Kochi, to Tosa-Ikku station. From
there it's about one-and-a-half kilometers to Number 30.
|Temple #30: Zenrakuji (The Temple of
Honzon: Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata)
Where do I begin?
There are two "big deals"
about this temple, which are closely related.
The first "big deal" is
reflected in these pictures. The figures in the "Niomon"
are NOT two kings. Instead they are a couple of characters
generally associated with Shinto. Hmmm... strange.
The next strange thing here is the
avenue leading from the gate. It's an unusual feature at a temple.
And even more unusual is the fact that
it culminates in this torii gate, a signally Shinto
Well, it turns out that Number 30 is on
the grounds of Tosa Shrine, the "Ikku" (Number 1 Shrine) of
the nearest station's name. The temple had always been on the
grounds of the shrine. When the Meiji decree went out separating
Buddhism and Shinto, pilgrims were prohibited from entering the shrine's
grounds, and Temple Number 30 was effectively shut down; the buildings
This leads us to "big deal"
number 2. The temple is not the buildings, or the site.
Essentially, the temple is the honzon. In chasing
down the 33 Temple Circuit on Kyushu, I once spent hours trying to find
a temple--Number 12, I think it was--near Mt. Aso. It turns out
that the temple is long gone, but the honzon is in a room over
someone's garage--making it in effect the temple!
So, when pilgrims were prohibited from
worshipping at Zenrakuji, the honzon was moved to another temple
in Kochi called Anrakuji. And it became Number 30.
When accommodation to Buddhism was
renewed, Zenrakuji was rebuilt, and they politely asked for their statue
back. Anrakuji--perhaps enjoying both the prestige and the income
as a pilgrimage temple--said no way. A battle ensued. The
upshot is that Anrakuji has been declared an okunoin--an inner
sanctuary--of Zenrakuji, so it can still be "part of" Number
It's rumored that Anrakuji is not
satisfied with this arrangement (which has prevailed since 1952).
The reasons are obvious: I didn't make it to Anrakuji today, and
I doubt that many have. I was under the impression that the
temples were near each other; when I asked in the office of Zenrakuji, I
was told that it was "about an hour" away on foot. No
map was offered, or advice given beyond a very brief answer to my
question. The dispute may be active still.
There was similar story about two
churches in New Mexico disputing a statue. As I recall, the
problem was solved easily enough when the statue got up and walked to
the church of its choice!
Returning to Kochi by train, I caught a
bus out to Number 31. But between the train and the bus--although
it's a short walk, and I had plenty of time--I opted to do something I
haven't done in almost a year: I took a streetcar.
I have worked four separate weeks in
the Kyushu city of Kumamoto, where I commuted by streetcar. I did
the same for one week in Hiroshima. I have also taken streetcars
in Nagasaki and other Japanese cities. I love them. When I
was a kid, there were streetcars in L.A. (imagine!) and my mom used to
take my brothers and me for a ride sometimes. Not to get anywhere,
mind you, but just to ride the streetcar. That's what I did today.
|Temple #31: Chikurinji (The Temple of
the Bamboo Forest)
Honzon: Monju Bosatsu (Manjusri Bodhisattva)
Anyway, I took the bus to Number 31.
This place is a real delight. It's kind of the "Griffith
Park" of Kochi City. It's a mountainous area with city views,
plenty of wild places, and a botanical garden. The buildings are
gorgeous, including the modern five-story pagoda which the Bishop
says cost five million dollars--that's a million per story! But
it's a real landmark, sitting as it does at such a great height so close
to the city.
Behind the pagoda is a beautiful old
cemetery. Despite this newness of the pagoda, this place is old
and even a little rundown--some of the stones have fallen over.
Be sure to look at the images of the
buildings in the Gallery.
The pilgrim path from Number 31 to
Number 32 is about 6 kilometers. Transportation out here is iffy,
so I decided to walk it.
The path down the mountain is cobbled,
and washed out in places. When I got to the bottom and looked
back, I discovered that I had walked over the top of a new tunnel--a
strange juxtaposition of old and new. If you click on this
picture, you can clearly see the pagoda up on the hill above and to the
left of the tunnel.
I was also charmed by this sight:
little buddies walking home from school.
Nearing Number 32, I was surprised to
discover this mammoth pond. I'd call it a lake,
except that it acts like a pond--full of lily pads, and afloat
Nothing in my guidebooks prepared me
for this. What is it, I wonder?
Yes, those brown spots in the picture
above ARE ducks. You can see them here.
Do you know this riddle? What
does it say?
Past the pond it's a bit of a climb to...
CD ED BD DUCKS?
MR NOT DUCKS!
OSAR, CDEDBD WINGS?
LILB MR DUCKS!
|Temple #32: Zenjibuji (The Temple of
the Ch'an Master's Peak)
Honzon: Juichimen Kannon (Avalokitesvara with eleven faces)
GOD I love the name of this place.
I could say it all day. Zenjibuji Zenjibuji Zenjibuji Zenjibuji.
It cracks me up.
Fudo Myoo in front of the rocks
||Jizo in front of the rocks
The temple is beautiful. Like the
"mystery pond" located below it, this mountain is covered with
"mystery rocks"--that is, nothing in the guidebooks
talks about the beautiful formations that cover the mountaintop.
Statler follows--at length--the career
of one of the first Americans to study and promote Japan after her
opening to the West. Frederick Starr was a professor of
anthropology at the University of Chicago (from which Statler--long
after Starr's time--graduated). Starr spent a considerable amount
of time on Shikoku (as well as elsewhere in Japan), and Statler believes
he was the first foreigner to do the pilgrimage--or at least the first
This temple--as well as a few
others--had examples of Starr's calligraphy. I tried to get
something about it out of the priest; the best I got was a look at a
"dream catcher" his wife brought back from Canada!
Perhaps the priest who hung up Starr's writing for display at Number 32
is gone; after all, Statler preceded me by nearly 30 years.
I did get something worth keeping from
this priest, though. He told me something two walking henro
have said before. When he asked if I was walking, I answered--as
usual--"half." Meaning I take some trains and buses, and
I walk some. He adamantly corrected me: If I am not using
"maikaa"--my car (a personal vehicle) or a taxi or tour bus, I
am a walking henro. I don't know where these rules are
written down, but it seems that I have been treated as a walker.
After all, the buses only get so close. Several times I have
encountered other walkers as I head up a mountain--and cars zip past us
to the top. I have certainly felt like a member of the walking
fraternity, so it's nice to get this validation from an
A few more things from Number 32:
First, this long view from the
mountain to the sea below. Like Number 25, this temple is
dedicated to the safety of sailors. The Kannon up here certainly
has a good vantage point to watch them from.
Next: We haven't seen our old friend Mr.
Tanuki from the Tokaido walk for quite awhile. Now I know why:
He's become a monk! Actually, there are stories of tanuki
dressed as monks in order to seduce women. So what's he doing in a
I really admired this statue's rag,
and thought I'd show it to you. He's near the parking lot.
Finally, a little study in selective
Sometimes I can't avoid showing you
phone lines, etc. But whenever possible, I try to leave these
things out, presenting as "pure" a picture of "Old
Japan" as possible. But I want you to know what I'm up
This picture shows a pleasant enough
scene of a roadside statue with a pine behind this statue of Jizo.
In fact, though, as you can see here,
he's between a traffic mirror and a light post!
I will continue to "edit"
what I see, but you should know it's not all antiquities.
The bus back to the city stops right below
the temple. I returned to "my neighborhood" and checked
on tomorrow's buses.
Walking home, I spotted an Italian
restaurant. I haven't had a sit-down-in-a-restaurant meal since I
hit Shikoku a week and a half ago, so I thought "Why not?"
And that's how I celebrated the completion of one-third of the
pilgrimage. Tomato and basil pasta, an amazing hot vegetable
salad, and a Perrier at Pappagallo--just what I needed.
A postscript: Today as I waited for a
bus, a lady handed my two mikan (a citrus fruit) and said,
"They're small but sweet."
Tonight, I was walking through a dark
neighborhood after dinner on the way to my hotel. Now, I don't
scare easily; I'm not a jumpy type. But I whirled into a major
defensive position when someone silently tapped my right elbow! I
was crouched and ready to tag this guy with my left when I realized that
he was handing me two more mikan with the words, "Eat these,
He should have made some noise or
spoken or something before he touched me!
Anyway, I have added all the
fruit-givers to my prayer list; it's becoming lengthy.