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Temple 38, Kongōfuku-ji

The Temple of Everlasting Happiness

Temple 38, Kongōfuku-ji

Kongōfuku-ji is Temple No. 38 on the Shikoku pilgrimage. Located overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the tip of the Ashizuri Peninsula, it has always enjoyed the patronage of aristocrats, warriors, and noble clans like the Minamoto, Chōsokabe, and Yamanouchi. Consequently it survived intact through the early Meiji years when other temples suffered damage.

Kongōfuku-ji is a mélange of buildings in quite disparate styles. The temple stands in a garden of colourful stones, which are reflected in a large pond. There are numerous pines, and the hill behind the temple is cloaked in windswept trees. 

In the 7th century, En no Gyōja is said to have exorcised a long-nosed tengu spirit that inhabited Cape Ashizuri. However, since the legendary tengu were associated with the syncretic religion to which En himself belonged, this story has a peculiar ring. In 822, Kūkai was ordered by Emperor Saga to establish a temple here. He carved the statue of the three-faced Senju Kannon Bosatsu as the image of worship.

Cape Ashizuri is the southernmost point of Shikoku. The distance between Temple No. 37 and No. 38 Kongōfuku-ji is one of the longest, and takes about three days on foot. Even by car, it feels like a journey to the end of the world. Here, as you gaze out over the boundless Pacific, you can see the curvature of the earth. A promontary next to Ashizuri bears an uncanny resemblance to a wild boar. Believing that paradise lay over the horizon, pilgrims may have set sail for the boundless south, never to return.

Such is the power of this place.

Information

Name in Japanese: 金剛福寺

Pronunciation: kongofuku-ji

Address: Ashizurimisaki 214-1, Tosashimizu, Kochi 787-0315

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