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Temple 88, Ōkubo-ji

The Big Hollow Temple

Temple 88, Ōkubo-ji

Ōkubo-ji is Temple No. 88 of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, or Henro. It’s the last temple of the pilgrimage, and pilgrims who make it here are considered to have fulfilled the vow they took before starting the pilgrimage. It’s located in a valley near the border between Kagawa and Tokushima at an altitude of 450 m, the eighth highest of the 88 temples.

What to see

For the last temple of the pilgrimage, it’s a surprisingly unassuming looking place. It’s divided into two halves, connected by a short path. There are two main gates, the wooden Niten Gate, which is located up the stone steps from the south side. A longish pathway leads up to the main hall behind which is a small two-storey pagoda. Behind the temple rises a steep mountain peak. The temple office is on the left side of the main hall. On the left of the approach before the main hall are a Jizō Hall and Amida Hall. Monuments with haiku by Santōka Taneda flank the Amida Hall.

On the west side is the concrete Niō Gate completed in 1990, beyond which is a large Daishi Hall. Next to the Daishi Hall is the Hōjō Hall, a large representation of a kongozue staff that houses a staff given to Kūkai by his teacher Huiguo. In front of this is an eternal flame memorial to the atomic bombings.

Besides the large entrance gateway, there’s nothing in particular to suggest that this is the culmination of an epic journey.  There are many attractive stone statues in the grounds, and in autumn, the yellow and red leaves are particularly beautiful.

History

Gyoki visited this area in the early 700s and established a hermitage. After returning from China, Kūkai practised reciting the mantra of Kokūzō one million times in a cave here. He built a temple and carved a life-sized statue of seated Yakushi Nyorai.

The temple prospered as the ‘Koyasan of Shikoku’ since it was open to female pilgrims who patronised the temple. But in 1574, Miyoshi Nagaharu of Awa, who failed in his attack on Hirune Castle, set fire to the temple when he withdrew. Rebuilt, the temple was again destroyed by fire in 1883.

Legends

It’s said that the temple was named Ōkubo-ji after the depression made by the priest’s staff given to Kūkai by his teacher Huiguo, which Kūkai stuck in the ground here.

Information

Name in Japanese: 大窪寺

Pronunciation: ōkuboji

Address: Kanewari 96, Tawa, Sanuki, Kagawa 769-2306

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