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Temple 17, Ido-ji

The Temple of the Well

Temple 17, Ido-ji

Ido-ji is temple No. 17 on the Shikoku pilgrimage, or Henro. It stands in a residential area in Tokushima city next to a Shintō shrine.

What to see

The Niō Gate stands in isolation from the other buildings. Painted vermilion red, it’s a large gate in the style of samurai architecture. It was relocated from the Hachisuka mansion. When you pass through the gate, there’s a water basin on the left and a hexagonal Goma Hall. A Goma ritual is held on the 28th of every month.

The main hall made of concrete is ahead of you. Most of the time, you can see the seven Yakushi Nyorai statues. There are times when the sun reflects off the face of the larger central figure. These statues represent the avoidance of the seven calamities and the realisation of the seven felicities.

In front to the right is the Daishi Hall where you see a statue of Kūkai. On the left is the Hikagiri Daishi Hall with a well in it. There’s a belfry next to it, and the temple office is in the priest’s quarters on the far left of the Hikagiri Daishi Hall. The Dainichi Hall is on the left of it.

The Kannon Hall houses the eleven-faced Kannon. The Dainichi Hall is a new structure, built in 2017 to enshrine the large statue of Dainichi Nyorai, which was previously enshrined in the centre of the Kōmyō Hall. The Kōmyō Hall is located between the main hall and the Daishi Hall.

There’s a Benzaiten Shrine and a Kariteimonten Shrine to Kishimojin, who offers safe childbirth.

There are two poetry monuments. On the left after entering the main gate is a haiku by Sano Mamoru from the Meiji period

daybreak is enough
for tying on the straw sandals
of henro

Further to the left is a recent tanka by Hyūga Misa

walking the pilgrimage
with a red backpack on
when we pass a butterfly
flutters off

History

The temple was founded in 673 by Emperor Tenmu, adjacent to the residence of the provincial governor. It grew into a magnificent temple with twelve branch temples, and it was called Myōshō-ji. In addition to the principle image by Prince Shōtoku, there are also statues of Nikkō and Gakkō by Gyōki. According to folklore, Kūkai engraved the eleven-faced Kannon in 815 and dug a well.

In 1362, the temple was burned down in the uprising of Hosokawa Yoriyuki and it was later rebuilt by Yoriyuki’s younger brother, Hosokawa Akiharu. It went up in flames again in a battle between Sogō Masayasu and Chōsokabe Motochika in 1582. The reconstruction was started by the Hachisuka clan, lords of the Tokushima domain in 1596, and in 1661, the main hall was finally rebuilt by the lord of the domain, Hachisuka Mitsutaka.

In 1916, the official name was changed to Ido-ji Temple. Until then, the name Myōshō-ji was used officially. The main hall was accidentally burned down again in 1968 and was rebuilt three years later.

Legends

It’s said that if you worship at the Hikagiri Daishi Hall on specific days, your wish will come true. The Omokage Well was dug by Kūkai in one night with his staff to provide a water source for the local farmers. It’s said that if you can see your face reflected in the water, you’ll enjoy good fortune, but if you can’t, you’ll meet with misfortune within three years.

Information

Name in Japanese: 井戸寺

Pronunciation: Ido-ji

Address: Kitayashiki 80-1 Kokufuchō Ido, Tokushima 779-3118

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