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Temples 29-32
(Thu., Oct. 25, 2001)

 Thursday, October 25th, 2001
See here for the distances between temples

 The Shikoku Pilgrimage


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.

Temple #29: Tosa Kokubun-ji (土佐国分寺)
  • Meaning: The Official State Temple for Tosa Province
  • Location: Nankoku, Kochi; 33.598694,133.640417 (map)
  • Sect: Chizan-ha Shingon Buddhism
  • Honzon: Senju Kannon Bosatsu
  • Mantra: On-ba-sa-ra-ta-ra-ma-ki-ri-ku!
  • Goeika:

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 prefecture.

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.


Main Gate

Main Hall

Daishi Hall

Temple #30: Zenraku-ji (善楽寺)
  • Meaning: The Temple of True Joy
  • Location: Kochi, Kochi; 33.591917,133.577556 (map)
  • Sect: Buzan-ha Shingon Buddhism
  • Honzon: Amida Nyorai
  • Mantra: On-a-mi-ri-ta-tei-sei-ka-ra-un!
  • Goeika:

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 feature.

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 were destroyed.

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 worshiping 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 30.

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 a 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.


Main Gate

Main Hall

Daishi Hall

Temple #31: Chikurin-ji (竹林寺)
  • Meaning: The Temple of the Bamboo Forest
  • Location: Kochi, Kochi; 33.546611,133.577472 (map)
  • Sect: Chizan-ha Shingon Buddhism
  • Honzon: Monju Bosatsu
  • Mantra: On-a-ra-ha-sha-no!
  • Goeika:

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 below.

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 look closely, 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 with ducks.

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...


Main Gate

Main Hall

Daishi Hall

Temple #32: Zenjibu-ji (禅師峰寺)
  • Meaning: The Temple of the Ch'an Master's Peak
  • Location: Nankoku, Kochi; 33.526694,133.611389 (map)
  • Sect: Buzan-ha Shingon Buddhism
  • Honzon: Juichimen Kannon
  • Mantra: On-ro-ke-jim-ba-ra-a-ran-ja-ki-ri-ku! or On-ma-ka-kya-ro-ni-kya-so-wa-ka!
  • Goeika:

GOD I love the name of this place. I could say it all day. Zenjibuji Zenjibuji Zenjibuji Zenjibuji. It cracks me up.

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.

Fudo Myoo in front of the rocks

Jizo in front of the rocks


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 documented one.

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 "official" source.


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 temple garden?

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 seeing.

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 against.

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.


Main Gate

Main Hall

Daishi Hall

Wrapping Up

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, please."

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.

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Posted October 13, 2019

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