Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgramage
The 88 Temple Tour of Shikoku is Japan’s most famous pilgrimage and starts in Tokushima. Ever since the great Japanese Buddhist saint Koba Daishi (AD 774-835) achieved enlightenment on the island of Shikoku, pilgrims have followed his path walking the 870 miles (1400 km) route around the island. For 1000 years, the pilgrimage was an extremely difficult task – the only way to make the journey was to walk the 870 miles (1400 km) track, an incredible journey. Until 1685 there was no guidebook. In modern times, the journey can be seen being made using every form of modern transportation, as well as a small minority with the time and energy that still attempt the walk. Upon learning of the 88 Temples, it has always been a goal of mine to visit all 88 before leaving Japan or in my lifetime. Although walking and following the path in order is out of the question, I believe simply visiting all 88 Temples is an accomplishment in itself. Thus far, I have only visited the first 10 temples, including Hashikura temple, which is not officially part of the 88, but was built by Kobo Daishi on top of a mountain in 828. My journey to find enlightenment continues…
More about Kobo Daishi
Known as Kukai (meaning ‘the sky and the sea’) during his lifetime, the great saint was awarded the title of Kobo Daishi – kobodaishi means ‘great teacher’ or ‘saint’ – following his death. Kobo Daishi founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism, the only major sect that believes enlightenment can be achieved in this lifetime. It is commonly referred to as Esoteric Buddhism. He is also credited with, among other things, putting together the first Chinese-Japanese dictionary, and creating hiragana, the system of syllabic writing that made it easier for Japanese to put their language into writing.
Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Map