When you come to Kagawa for the first time it may seem strange to go to the final temple of a very long pilgrimage. But there is nothing strange about this at all. The pilgrimage, we are told is one that is circular. And in this case, that is a geographical reality. The pilgrimage winds itself in a giant circle around the entire circumference of Shikoku. You can start the pilgrimage at any temple and just walk to the next one. Typically this is done in a clock-wise manner, but you can also go in reverse as well. There is no “rule” for what you are supposed to do. Let no “purist” tell you otherwise. Some people do it “regular”. Others go in reverse. Others pick and choose and do things piecemeal. You can do whatever you like. There are no pilgrim police.
You can go on foot. You can go by bike. You can go my motorcycle, bus, car, or hovercraft. Do what you think is best, just be nice, be kind, be considerate, and you’ll blend right in.
What makes this temple interesting is that this is the supposed end of the journey. It is here that Kobo Daishi left his walking stick (enshrined here) and where many pilgrims follow suit and leave theirs too.
There are crutches left here by people who claim to have been miraculously cured while on pilgrimage.
On the bottom of this photo mosaic you can see the big staff, called a “shakujou”. It has the large metal rings on the sides. Here is where the walking sticks are kept, and then are later ritually burned.
The main deity of this temple is Yakushi Nyorai. Yakushi Nyorai is the Buddha of Medicine. “Yakushi” means, “medicine teacher”. He is typically displayed as holding a medicine jar in his left hand and the right hand is raised in a “fear not” position. Sometimes the left hand is in a “wish granting” position instead.
In front of the giant staff you will see a burning flame. This is in remembrance of those who have been lost to nuclear war. The characters read, “Fire of the atomic bomb”. This is a temple for healing, and this memorial a reminder that we must heal our world from hate and violence that inevitably leads to human destruction and the annihilation of our future.