While its one thousand-plus years of history is impressive enough, Tokushima Prefecture’s Ryozenji Temple is the important starting point of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Grab some friends and take your first steps on this 88-stop tour of Buddhist temples on the island of Shikoku.
While legend says Ryozenji was founded in the eighth century, it was the monk Kukai at the beginning of the next century who would solidify the temple’s place in the country’s spiritual landscape. Kukai established the Shingon sect of Buddhism and developed Mount Koya, a large settlement devoted to the sect’s teachings. Kukai visited Ryozenji and over the course of subsequent centuries, the temple became the starting point of a key Buddhist pilgrimage.
As with many old sites in Japan, this one has been destroyed and rebuilt several times since its founding. Highlights include a small Japanese garden featuring carp and a two-story pagoda enshrining a statue of Gyodai Nyorai who represents the five wisdoms of esoteric Buddhism.
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