“The Dojo of Awakening Faith”
This winter vacation in Japan I finally had a chance to get back on the trail of enlightenment and finish the first of four phases on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, known as "The Dojo of Awakening Faith." With 8 temples remaining of 23 in Tokushima, I finally finished my tour of the temples in my prefecture. This past week, I visited temples number 11-17 and 23. Having now visited the first 23 of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, I’ll take this opportunity to reflect on my most memorable stops.
No. 12: Shozanji Temple (The Temple of Burning Mountain) – located in Kamiyama, Tokushima. Legend has it that Kobo-Daishi subdued the fiery dragon of this mountain who was causing great damage to life and property in the area. As the Daishi ascended the mountain flames threatened to engulf him, but he extinguished them by forming the Mudra of Turning the Wheel of the Dharma and finally sealed the dragon in a cave, carving two images to guard it. This temple is unique in that it’s located at an elevation 2,640 feet (800 meters) above sea level, the second highest elevated temple on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
No. 21: Tairyuji Temple (The Temple of Great Dragon) – located in Anan City, Tokushima. According to legend, when the first Emperor of Japan Jinmu was engaged in a unifying campaign there, a miraculous dragon image appeared believed to be the guardian of the mountain; hence the area was called Great Dragon Mountain. This temple is also called Nansho in the Awa province, because it’s located 2,000 feet above sea level, the forth highest elevated temple on the 88 Temple Pilgrimage. This temple was memorable to me due to the effort I took in hiking to its summit.
No. 23: Yakuoji Temple (The Temple of Medicine King) – located in Hiwasa, Tokushima. This temple is an extremely popular visit for residents of Tokushima during the days following each New Year, known as oshagatsu. Yakuoji Temple is known for turning aside the danger of misfortune. In Japan, it’s believed that women at the ages of 19 and 33, and men at 42 or 61, are particularly prone to back luck during these years. However, by visiting this temple at these ages, one’s ill fate can be turned aside for good fortune.
Note: The pictures below are from my trip to Shozanji Temple.