Welcome to Konsenji, which can be understood in English as the “Golden Spring Temple”. This temple has a legend attached to it where Kukai put his staff in the ground and clean water sprang out. As you walk along the pilgrimage, you may learn more about Kukai in his work as a civil engineer. While the legends of water springing out of the ground may be questioned, what is historical fact are the systems of water reservoirs and irrigation that Kukai established. These works, considering the drought conditions that are places like Kagawa prefecture, resulted in the saving of countless thousands of human lives. In this way, Kukai is really not only a spiritual leader, but a very human hero who used his knowledge and influence to serve his fellow humans. I love that.
In this temple it is said that there are square cloths that are suspended by four posts. This is a symbol of care for women who have perished in childbirth. The body of the mother is held up in the cloth. Pilgrims who visit pour water on them to cleanse the souls of the mothers and to send them forward into enlightenment.
Another great feature, if you can find it, is a big rock called the “Benkei stone”. Benkei is known in Japanese history and folklore as the great servant/guide/friend and bodyguard of Yoshitsune, one of the most famous samurai in Japan. Benkei is known as an incredibly powerful and strong warrior monk and it is said he lifted this rock with ease to demonstrate his strength. If you are feeling particularly energetic you may have a chance to give it a go.
You have come pretty far in one day. The next temple is about 5 kilometers away so if you are determined you could probably make it there in the same day. It’s a beautiful day to be a pilgrim.