+japan++shikoku++yakuoji++yakuoji photo overview++shikoku sightseeing+
Yakuoji Temple at Hiwasa, Shikoku, southern Japan
Yakuoji Temple brings good luck to men and women
A view from the heights of Yakuoji Temple –ò‰¤Ž› Shikoku Žl‘
Yakuoji Temple, Shikoku, JapanYakuoji Temple is one of my favorite parts of Shikoku Japan
Ojizo in his distinctive bib at Yakuoji Temple in Shikoku
Yakuoji Temple in Shikoku Japan
One of the famous 88 temples on Shikoku Island in Japan
Banish your bad luck at Yakuoji Temple in Hiwasa Japan
Clean up your Buddhic karma at Yakuoji Temple in Hiwasa
Yakuoji Temple, Shikoku, Japan
A woman climbs the steep but lucky staircase to Hiwasa's Yakuoji Temple
The coin-strewn stairs

s h i k o k u ... y a k u o j i - t e m p l e

Great Temples of Japan ---- ONE of the done things to do in Shikoku -- and this is something which attracts a lot of Japanese visitors in particular -- is to see the 88 temples which ring the verdant, mountainous island. Of course, 88 temples is a lot to cram into any itinerary, and even the most seasoned culture vulture may well be complaining of templeitis before they have taken in a quarter of this number. The Shikoku Temple Circuit is not for the squeamish or lighthearted... this is a real mission, a pilgrimage in fact. And pilgrims can be seen all over Shikoku, traversing the island by foot.

In my days in Shikoku I have managed to visit just two of the 88 temples -- Byodoji in Aratano and Yakuoji down the road at Hiwasa (“ú˜a²j. Byodoji is temple number 21 and I rang the bell there to bring in the Year of the Dog on 1/1/2006. Yakuoji (–ò‰¤Ž›j is temple number 23 and its name means Jdrug king templeJ in English. People go there to get good luck or rather the bad luck removed from two of the unluckiest ages of the Japanese Buddhist life cycles. You read that right there are unlucky ages in Japan -- the 33rd year of life for women is said to be cursed, while men better beware (be aware) in their 42nd year. These are mean-assed years but fortunately much of the misery and misfortune can be undone if you visit Yakuoji Temple.

As one Japanese website points out: "“ú˜a²‚Ö‚Í•½“™Ž›‚©‚çŽO‚‚̓»‚ð’´‚¦‚éB–ò‰¤Ž›‚Í“ú˜a²‚Ì’¬‚ðˆê–]‚·‚éŽR‚Ì’†• ‚É‚ ‚èm‰¤–å‚©‚ç ŽO\ŽO’i‚̏—–ïâ–{“°‚Ü‚Å‚ÌŽl\“ñ’i‚Ì’j–ïâ‚ª‚ ‚鏗ŽO\ŽOÎA’jŽlZ“ñÎ‚ª–ï”N‚Å–ï”N‚̐l‚Í –ï‘K‚ð—Ž‚Æ‚µ‚È‚ª‚ç“o‚éBŽl‘ˆê‚̖‚¯‚ÌŽ›‚¾‚¯‚É”NŠÔ•S–œ‚̐l‚ªŽQ”q‚·‚éB Om˜Z”NAO–@‘åŽtŽl\“ñÎ‚Ì‚Æ‚«AŽ©‘¼‚̖‚𐾊肵‚Ä‚²–{‘¸‚Ì–òŽt”@—ˆ‚ð‚ÝA‘åŽt‚Ì‘t•·‚É ‚æ‚èA•½éEµ‰ãE~˜a‚ÌŠe’é‚͖‚Ì’ºŽg‚ð‰º‚µ‚ÄŠ¯Ž›‚Æ‚µ‚½B•¶Ž¡Žl”Niˆêˆê”ª”ªj‚̍Љ΂ł²–{‘¸ ‚͋ʐ~ŽqŽR‚Ö‚¢‚‚½‚ñˆÚ‚ç‚ꂽ‚ªAÄŒšŒã‚͐V‚µ‚¢‘¸‘œA‚ª‘¢Œ°‚³‚ꂽ‚½‚߁AŒãŒü‚«‚É–{“°‚Ö“ü‚ç‚êu ŒãŒü–òŽtv‚Æ‚æ‚΂ê‚Ä‚¢‚éBŒ»Ý‚Ì–{“°‚Í–¾Ž¡ŽO\˜Z”N‚ÌŒš—§B–{“°‰E‚̂䂬“ƒ‚ւ͘Z\ˆê’i‚ÌŠÒ—ï ‚Ìâ‚ð“o‚铃“à‚ɂ͌ܒq”@—ˆ‚ª•òˆÀ‚³‚êAŠKã‚ÍŽ›•ó‚Ì“WŽ¦ŽºA‚Ü‚½A“ƒ‚©‚ç‚Í”ü‚µ‚¢“ú˜a²‚Ì’¬•À‚â ‘å•lŠCŠÝ‚ª–]‚Ü‚ê‚éBˆ¢”g—ìê‚à‚±‚±‚Å‘Å‚¿I‚¦‚Æ‚È‚éB"

Apparently the way to undo the bad luck of the malignant 33rd/42nd years is to scatter coins as you climb the long long staircase up to the main temple complex. There are special staircases for male and female pilgrims -- and you guessed it, there is one stair for each year of your life. That is, the women have to climb 33 years and the men have to climb 42 stairs, and they have to drop coins on each step to thoroughly scrub their karma squeaky clean. You will see plenty of coins on the stairs at this temple -- see the photo at the bottom of the stream on the left for visual confirmation of this! I kept wondering what would be the karmic payback for the hapless backpacker or penniless pilgrim who scraped up some of these aforementioned coins, and pocketed them. Too terrible to contemplate I'm afraid!

Hiwasa itself is a quaint little coastal town and you can get a swell view of the place from the top of Yakuoji. Fishing is a big industry and there are some cool islands jutting up near the shore. On misty days the view has almost a south China/Thai limestone ambience, except that there is too much concrete gray in the palette. Hawks do the rounds above.

From one official tourist site, I gathered this information: "Hiwasa is located on the Muroto-Anan coastline in the southern part of Tokushima prefecture. This is a national park area and faces the beautiful Black Current sea. Hiwasa is a small fishing town with a population of about 7000 people. Whilst small in size and population, Hiwasa nevertheless boasts well established tourist facilities. These cater for the 1 million people who visit annually. Some of these visitors hail from Cairns in Australia, which is Hiwasa's sister city. Hiwasa is blessed with clean air and blue skies. The town is set in folds between the mountains, and only a few minutes walk from any part of town will bring you into cool forests or onto sandy beaches. Hiwasa is known as the "town of faith and turtles". The temple in Hiwasa, Yakuoji Temple, is the 23rd temple out of 88 Holy Places on the island of Shikoku and is an important place for pilgrims. Hiwasa is also popular for people wishing to see turtles. Each year about 150 turtles lay their eggs on Ohama Beach from May to August. Hiwasa is located by the sea, so fishing is a major industry. There is an abundant array of fresh seafood available throughout the year."


[yakuoji -- hiwasa]
shikoku japan 2005

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