Friday, September 30, 2011

Ryozenji Temple 1 of the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Located in Naruto, not far from Tokushima City, Ryozenji is now classified as temple 1 on the pilgrimage route because it is located closest to the port where pilgrims from Kyoto/Osaka would arrive on Shikoku.

The name translates as Vulture Peak Temple, and according to the legend it was founded by the famous priest Gyogi in the 8th Century and visited by Kukai in the 9th Century.

Like most of the pilgrimage temples it belongs to the Shingon Sect. The main deity worshipped here is Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha.

The temple buildings date from 1964, and like many temples in eastern Shikoku is was destroyed by the warlord Chosokabe Motochika in the 16th Century and was burned down again in the late 19th Century.

I think most pilgrims start from here, and also quite a few return at the end of their pilgrimage to "close the circle". Also it is close enough to Tokushima that many people do a sample of the pilgrimage by walking the first half a dozen.

The temple has all the products and supplies you would need to do the pilgrimage.

The Niomon gate and the pagoda are particularly delightful. Like many of the temples there are dozens and dozens of statues of many Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and other deities.....


  1. I wonder if you would comment on the motivation of Japanese who make these pilgrimmages? Is it perceived in the sort of religious terms that prompts Christian and Muslim pilgrims, for example? Or is it more a cultural thing, getting in touch with their history and heritage?

  2. Hi Phil
    simple answer is its both. some I met were very seriously religiously motivated... others more tourist-inclined....

  3. Ryozenji is really beautiful. and I really like your pictures.

    I went for my first trip to Japan, and unfortunately I didn't know enough about its background to fully enjoy it, and I can't wait to go back (hopefully in the next few months).