Home    Deep Asia    Articles    Photos    Blogs/What's New

The Temple Guy(.com) is dead! Long live the Temple Guy(.org)!
Well, not dead, exactly, but... Read more about it!



Aki Meguri Shikoku Logbook:

November 9th, 2001 (Friday):
Temples 76, 77, 78, 79, 80 and a Bangai

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.

Whew!  I hit the 80's today.  Eight more temples--probably three or four more days--and then I'll be heading back to Number 1 to close the circle.  I'll also almost certainly return to Koyasan to check in with the Daishi; it's the most proper way to finish the pilgrimage.

Yesterday and today I did five temples a day.  The traveling isn't so tough, but doing these five-temple homepages is killing me!  Especially since this youth hostel room doesn't have a table, even a low Japanese-style one.  So I've tried to raise the computer up a bit in the tokonoma (decorative alcove), but it's still uncomfortable.

Ah, the sacrifices I make for you, dear readers!

Bangai: Kaiganji, The Place where Kobo Daishi was Born?

Before I set out for Number 76 this morning, I took a look around Kaiganji where I'm staying, the temple Oliver Statler refers to as "Beach Temple"--and with good reason, as the back wall of the temple is right along the beach.

I feel bad sometimes about picking on Ed Readicker-Henderson so much, but I just get this feeling that he and I were on different pilgrimages.  Differences of opinion are one thing, but differences of fact are a big concern.  This is all the more strange because (I think) Ed lived/lives in this area, where I have found the most mistakes in his book.

Kaiganji has two units.  One is a hondo (main hall) and youth hostel surrounded by other buildings.  On the map of the grounds given to me, there are 20 named components, including statuary groups, gates, and no fewer than four marked -do, meaning (Buddha) hall, as in hondo.  Across the street is the Okunoin, the "back temple," where the Daishido is located.  This stands on the purported site of the Daishi's birth (though Number 75 says he was born there--see yesterday's logbook for details).  In this unit of Kaiganji, there are 26 named components, again four of which are -do.  There is also an extensive "Mini-88," a path lined with statues representing each of the Shikoku temples; this path is one of the longest that I've seen, leading up the side of two different hills and across the gully in between.

Now, here's what Ed says of Kaiganji: "Kaiganji...is now little more than a new gate dwarfed by apartment buildings."


Here are a few images:

The front gate of the beachside unit;

 The figures on either side are enshrined in the gate in place of the usual Nio.
Recognize them?  They're Sumo "wrestlers."

The Hondo Gate to the Okunoin, with pagoda on the hill The Daishido, my choice for site of the Daishi's birth

After dawdling on the beach for a while, I finally hopped a train for...

Temple #76: Konzoji (The Temple of the Golden Storehouse)
Honzon: Yakushi Nyorai (Baisajya-guru)

This fairly unprepossessing looking temple is rich in history.  It is the birthplace of Enchin, later called Chisho Daishi, the Daishi's nephew, who became the sixth patriarch of Tendai Buddhism.

It was also the site of what the Bishop calls a "residential home" of General Nogi, a hero of the early 20th century.  (By the way, this area--near Zentsuji--is still a military area.  I saw several men in uniform riding their bikes home from "work" last night.)  The General (sometimes called "Count") and his wife are famous for committing suicide upon the death of the Meiji Emperor in 1912.

1912.  Mark that date, 'cause I'm about to take it out of Ed again.

The pine in this picture is called the Tsuma-gaeshi-no-Matsu.  A fairly romantic tradition says that the General's wife used to wait for him under a pine on this spot.

Ed records that "a shogun's wife" used to wait here.  (An easy mistake, as shogun means "general," more or less.)  Then he says, "The resident priest assured me that the current pine is only a second-generation tree, but it is small enough that it may be a few generations later than that, almost dwarfed by the stone which has the legend carved into it."

Well, if this was a Kamakura shogun Ed might have a point.  But since this guy died less than a hundred years ago, I vote for the priest.

One more thing at this temple caught my eye.  At the Niomon most temples have a box or basket in front of each of the kings for people to make offerings.  Remember that yesterday I saw a man threshing rice?  Well, here someone has offered new rice instead of coins.  I don't know how the priests feel about this, but I'm sure the gods are mighty pleased.

A short train ride and a short walk took me to..

Temple #77: Doryuji (The Temple of the Arising Way)
Honzon: Yakushi Nyorai (Baisajya-guru)

This temple could be characterized as a little gem: it's small, but the raw, unfinished wood of the buildings makes it seem very old.  The grounds are crammed with small buildings, and a pathway lined with Kannons representing the 100 temples of the three big Kannon pilgrimages: the Saigoku (Kansai) 33, the Bando (Kanto) 33, and the Chichibu 34--all of which I've done (the last one entirely on foot last July).

This temple was a training center for both Tendai and Shingon priests.  Ed says it was founded when a relative of the Daishi's (who lived before him) accidentally shot his nurse with an arrow.  He carved a Yakushi (Buddha of healing) and built this temple to house it.  Later, the Daishi carved a bigger image of Yakushi and put the smaller one inside it (a common practice).

Not much else to say here, except that I met a new friend.  His chain was all wrapped up around a pole; I unwound it and now we're friends for as long as he can remember what happened--which means it was probably over as soon as I walked away.

Temple #78: Goshoji (The Temple of the Illuminating Local Site)
Honzon: Amida Nyorai (Amitabha Tathagata)

All of today's temples were blessedly close to train stations.  This one, the farthest, was still less than a twenty-minute walk.

Goshoji belongs to the Ji sect, founded in the Kamakura period by Ippen.  This is the sect that also owns Yugyoji in Fujisawa, where I was treated so royally.

This temple is quite pretty, although parts of it are torn up for construction.

Somewhere on the grounds is a representation of the "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" monkeys.  The Bishop puts it on the hondo, where it's off-limits to casual visitors like me.  Ed puts it by the front gate; I couldn't find it--perhaps it was removed during construction.

The classic representation of these three is at Toshogu in Nikko.  Ed gives an interpretation I hadn't read before: there are worms in the human body which monitor the soul's condition, and report on it at the time of death.  It is hoped that they will follow the monkeys' examples, seeing, hearing, and--especially--speaking no evil.  News to me.

Near the Daishido is an entrance to an underground room.  Worshippers buy and dedicate statues of Kannon in this hall--an overwhelming number of them.  Each little  item you see in the picture is a Kannon, and this is only one hallway of four.

Temple #79: Koshoin (The Temple of the Emperor)
Honzon: Juichimen Kannon (Avalokitesvara with eleven faces)

A most unusual place.  The main gate (see the Gallery) is the torii of a shrine; its honden appears behind it.  To the right one finds the temple office, former shukubo (temple lodgings), and stamp office.  To the left are the hondo and Daishido.  So does the temple administer the shrine?  I don't know.

But I do know how this came to be--more or less.

I can't possibly give you all the historical background in a brief manner, but this will be enough: there was a troubled emperor in the 12th century, and a dispute over succession.  His name was Sutoku.  Eventually he was exiled to this province, where he was assassinated.  His body was either kept (Ed) or bathed (the Bishop) in a pond here until its burial at Number 81, where I hope to go tomorrow.

The story doesn't end there.  He was pissed, even after death, and wreaked havoc on the country--or so they say.  The Emperor strikes back.  So they deified him in an attempt to placate him; the shrine here is dedicated to him as a Shinto god.

For this reason, Koshoin is also called Tennoji--the Temple of the Emperor.

I looked for the pond.  There doesn't seem to be one on the grounds proper, but this one is right next to the grounds.  It is not marked, but Ed says that the current administration at the temple has been down-playing the historical significance of the place.  Could they have removed the signs and restricted the access?  I'm not sure.

Temple #80: Kokubunji (The Temple of The Temple of a National Division; the "State Temple")
Honzon: Juichimen Kannon (Avalokitesvara with eleven faces)

Today's last temple, my entree to the eighties.

This is the fourth and last Kokubunji of the trip; here's a summary set of links:

September 25th
Temple 15
Temple 29
Temple 59

This is one of the most beautiful temples I've seen.  The pine grove around it makes all the difference, I think, as well as the old stones, evidence of previous structures.

The Daishido takes some explaining.  It's in the white pagoda on the left side of the picture in the Gallery.  But you approach it through a building that also houses the stamp office and a well-stocked pilgrim's store, the tile roof of which appears toward the right side of the picture.  Here is the gateway to that building, with the Daishido/pagoda on the left.

The Bishop says the hondo is from the Kamakura period, and the oldest structure remaining among the pilgrimage's four Kokubunji.  Here's one more shot of it, looking across some old foundation stones and through the pines.

That's it for today.  Weather willing, I'll be up in the mountains for a walk from Number 81 to Number 82 and back down to the valley floor tomorrow.  (If the weather is bad, I'll do Numbers 83 to 86--all city temples--instead.)  Just three more days, if all goes according to plan, and I'll be on my way back to Number 1.

<Previous Logbook Entry Return to
Aki Meguri Home
Return to
Shikoku Top

Next Logbook Entry>


Write to The Temple Guy

Search the Temple Guy