Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kagami - Chikurinji

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 13.
Temples: #28-31 (Dainichiji, Kokubunji, Zenrakuji, Chikurinji).
Distance: 32.5km (372.3km), time spent: 10:50.
Weather: Morning mist, then sunny.

I think it rained for most of the night, though I was happily oblivious to it tucked underneath my blanket at Minshuku Kagami-yado. So far Kochi Prefecture has lived up to its reputation of being sparse with the temples, but now as I am getting closer to the big city itself, there are several not far from each other. Kochi is also where I aim to go today, hoping too be able to visit Anrakuji, the okunoin of temple 30, before finding my accommodation for the night as well. I have not booked a place for the night though, there should be no trouble getting a place in a city of that size.

Morning mist after leaving Kagami.

Another world is waiting for me outside, as the rain has moved away, leaving only the morning mist behind. Traces of sunlight is piercing through the mist, adding an ethereal beauty to the walk. As the mist slowly fade away, a castle is revealed on top of a mountain, it looks more like an European castle than a traditional Japanese castle. I wonder what it is. Other strange curiosities is a large red fish trying to catch a large bait, a model of an old fighter plane hanging between two buildings and a big collection of all kind of stuff outside a house, probably an artists home.

Temple #28, Dainichiji.

Okunoin of Dainichiji, Tsumebori Yakushidō.

Though, of course, all of today is about temples. After mostly walking next to roads and past peoples homes, I arrive at temple #28, Dainichiji (The Great Sun Temple). Here the temple buildings stands facing each other on top of a small hill, with trees surrounding them. Quiet at the temple. With sunrays filtered through the trees, I visit the okunoin of this temple, Tsumebori Yakushidō, a short lovely distance away. It consists of two small shrines and some of the familiar statues and ornaments also found at the temples, a secluded tranquil spot.

A pathmarker on the Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage.

Going past a field of cosmos flowers on the way to temple #29, Kokubunji.

Always a good thing arriving at a temple, but the best thing about this one was that I actually met Otsu-san again, walking up towards the temple as I left it. If you remember my first day on the pilgrimage, he was the henro with the trolley, I have not seen him again until now. Kobayashi-san was here also, whom I first met at Kongōchōji, he is the one henro that walks with a bigger kongōzue (staff) than all others. I would be seeing him quite often on the walk to the next temple, about 10km away from here. At a henro hut that is also a little shrine, Daishidō, we meet a henro that is walking the pilgrimage in the opposite direction. Doing that is called Gyaku-uchi / Saka-uchi and is considered to be more difficult as the signs will be pointing the other way. He wears a sedgehat with some gaping holes in it, not a good thing when it is raining.

Temple #29, Kokubunji.

Kokubunji, #29, is the official state or provincial temple of this prefecture, which is the reason why it shares the same name with other temples on the pilgrimage (there is one in each prefecture). This temple stands in the middle of some fields, but tall trees that forms some sort of a natural fence separates the buildings from the fields. A thing to note about this temple is that the roof of the hondo (main hall) is thatched, as opposite to the usual tiled roofs.

The red shrine of Bishamon-dō, okunoin to Kokubunji.


From Kokubunji there is about 7km to the 30th temple, but that distance will be longer for me. My curious eyes has been fixated on Bishamon-dō, in fact it is the name in parenthesis in the guidebook that has drawn my attention to it. Bishamon Falls, meaning there should be a waterfall at the inner sanctuary of Kokubunji. The route there is marked as a pilgrimage route in the guidebook, but there are no markers on the way. You have to walk up into a valley nestled between the hills to get to it.


It is beautiful. Crossing a small bridge over the pond below the waterfall, you can look up at the water cascading down from the hills, the two buildings of the shrine above to the right, one wooden and one red, and one of those tiny shrines (also red) at the end of the bridge. A beautyspot and a perfect place to eat the lunch that I have brought along with me. A discarded snake skin belonging to a mamushi viper lies close the path to the pond. Next to the place lies Ryūōin, a wonderful, colorful and different temple. It boasts a hexagonal building, a stone garden, a carp pond with a tiny waterfall and red temple buildings. I am on a high when I leave this place.

Kamohama henro hut, this was not on my route, but I had to go down to look at the hut, curious to look at it after reading about it on the Following the Arrows blog.

With Kochi getting really close, I arrive at temple #30, Zenrakuji, or so I think. Until I learn that it is in fact not the temple, but Tosa Jinja. This is one of the more important Shinto shrines in Japan actually, maybe underlining the note that Kochi Prefecture is still the land of Shintoism. It is a huge interesting and wooden structure, very nice. Zenrakuji (The Temple of True Joy) itself lies side by side to it, but feels much smaller after visiting Tosa Jinja. There was actually a dispute over the right to call itself temple #30 between Zenrakuji and Anrakuji (now the okunoin), this began in 1868 when the temple became damaged in riots during the resurgence of Shintōism and the Buddhist purge following the Meiji Restoration. Anrakuji took over as temple #30 and at a time it was also forbidden for henros to visit the original temple grounds. At the now restored temple, I talk a little bit with a very young henro, carrying his belongings in a backpack and two plastic bags. Otsu-san also appear at the temple.

Tosa Jinja.

Temple #30, Zenrakuji.

Now, my originally plan was for me to go visit Anrakuji, which lies in Kochi. Someone told me it was going to rain tomorrow and since the weather is beautiful, I change my mind to try to reach temple #31 instead, Chikurinji (Bamboo Forest Temple). Otsu-san just shakes his head and laughs heartingly. I need to go fast. Good thing there are not much to draw my attention away until I get to the start of the climb up to the temple. It is a nice climb up, but I take a wrong turn at a point and end up going straight through the Makino Botanical Garden, which is not so bad a detour.

On the path up to Chikurinji.

As for the temples, this one is the best of the day, actually modeled on Wu-t'aisan (Godaisan), a famous Chinese temple. It has all the ingredients that I like, peaceful surroundings, a notable staircase with lamps on each side leading up to the temple, a pagoda, small gardens, nice temple halls. The hondo has lots of colorful 'flags' hanging in front of it. There is a beautiful light on the sky, coming from the evening sun, when I am at the temple. I made it in time, but feeling tired I get the staff to book a place for me in Kochi. One of them offer to drive me to Kochi, as he is finished with his chores at the temple, but I politely decline wanting to explore the temple grounds some more.

The pagoda at Chikurinji.

The hondo of Chikurinji.

Having walked down from Chikurinji, I miss the bus going to the centre of Kochi, an hour to the next one. Luckily a taxi soon appear, driving me to my business hotel, Hakutenko. In Kochi, I go to a nearby restaurant for dinner, an izakaya serving Korean dishes. Remembering my time on the Baekdu Daegan, I opt for the bulkogi, marinated meat that I prepare my self at the small barbeque in front of me, with a couple of beers to go. Being in a city, the place is full with the more trendy and hipster clientele. Not much time and feeling tired, I do not spend much time looking at the city, returning to my tiny room after a short walk and a beer in one of the arcades. Another good day being henro in Shikoku.

Out having dinner at an izakaya in Kochi.

<- KagamiTanemaji ->


  1. Hi Tarnen!
    Nice to read about your visit to the Okunoin of t29. Last time in Spring when I stayed in Kochi during the Golden Weekend in May I skipped Bishamon Falls because of my time planning. I visited 32 Yakushiji and 30 Anrakuji instead.
    For sure I will go to 29 Bishamon-Dō and the Falls next time in Fall!

    1. If you haven't visited Bishamon-Dō and the waterfall next to it already, it is greatly recommended (but I hope that is apparent from my text). I would have liked to see Anrakuji also, next time maybe.

  2. " but I take a wrong turn at a point and end up going straight through the Makino Botanical Garden, which is not so bad a detour." I think that's actually the intended route. Not sure why you think you took wrong turn? Pretty sure I followed map book to the dot and went straight through that garden.

    1. Then it might be the wrong route through the garden, I remember walking down a little part of a small road before coming to Chikurinji, seeing the henro signs on another path coming down to the temple.

    2. Hmm. I went through backside, climbing up along side some sort of rail thingie and then through the garden. I even double checked from the ticket gate whether I had to pay for having crossed through the garden and was told no.

    3. Looks like we went the same way then. Though for me that didn't look like the correct route. Doesn't really matter anyway, too short a wrong turn and it wasn't bad.


popular posts