As the “88 temples of Shikoku (Shikoku Hachijuhachikasho)” will reach 1,200-years this year, many people are visiting Shikoku.
Have you ever been on an Ohenro-san (Pilgrimage)?
By the way, do you know how or why the “88 Temple Shikoku Pilgrimage” started? Actually, nobody knows for sure, but there are two legends connected with temples in Ehime and Tokushima that claim to be the origin of the Ohenro-san.
In 824, in Ukena-gun, Shōbara, there was a powerful clan that had no nearby rivals. Led by the rich, greedy and mean Emonsaburō, people in the village were scared him. One day when it was snowing, a shabbily dressed monk showed up at Emonsaburō’s house gate. The monk was…. Kōbō-Daishi. The next day and the day after that, Kōbō-Daishi stood and begged for alms in front of the house, but Emonsaburō took out his whip and broke Kōbō-Daishi’s iron bowl into 8 pieces.
Emonsaburō had 8 children. The day after he broke the monk’s bowl, his 1st boy died. After that, all his remaining children died one by one. He believed this happened because of his evil deed, so he took off on a journey to find Kōbō-Daishi.
They say this is the origin of the Ohenro-san (Pilgrimage).
Even after taking off and circling the 88 temples 20 times, Emonsaburō didn’t meet Kōbō-Daishi. He then thought he might meet Kōbō-Daishi if he went around the other way, so he started to visit all the temples again but this time in reverse. However, he became sick and fell down near Shōsan-ji temple, the 12th of the Shikoku 88.
This is Jōshin’an.
And that point, Kōbō-Daishi appeared in front of him and said, “your evil deed has already disappeared and now you have a good heart. Your time is over, but your wish will come true in your next life”.
Emonsaburō made a wish: “If possible, I want to be the governor of a province,” he said.
Just before Emonsaburō passed away, Kōbō-Daishi put a pebble into his left hand. Written on the pebble was, “Emonsaburō comes again”.
Kōbō-Daishi buried Emonsaburō’s body, and planted a keepsake (his cedar cane) on top of his tomb and prayed for him.
That’s why this place is called Jōshin’an (Kanji: cane+cedar+small house).
Later, in the Edo period, Ninna-ji in Kyoto gave Emonsaburō a posthumous Buddhist name “ Kōmyōin Shikō Hachiren Daikoji”.
Sometime after Emonsaburō died, a plum healthy boy was born at Yuzuki Castle (gone now, but formerly in Dōgo Matsuyama City, Ehime), but his right hand wouldn’t open.
In the spring of his 3rd year, the boy attended a cherry blossom viewing party. He put his hands together, faced south and prayed three times. Suddenly his hand opened and out fell a pebble. His servant picked it up and read the inscription: “Emonsaburō comes again”.
The stone is enshrined at “Ishite-ji” Temple (Kanji: stone + hand + temple), the 51st temple of the Shikoku 88.
A legendary place that is the origin of the Shikoku Pilgrimage… If you do Ohenro-san, please stop by and pray.
Address: Jichu Shimobun, Kamiyama-chō, Myōzai-gun, Tokushima
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