Monday, July 28, 2014

No 29 Pilgrimage Site Kokubunji

The History of Kokubunji
   Kokubunji was constructed under the imperial decree of the 45th Emperor of Japan, Emperor Shomu. It was established in 741 by the high priest Gyoki, and restored under Kukai. Back then, the area surrounding Kokubunji was part of the Tosa domain, and a provincial governor better known for his work as an author of the Tosa Diaries stayed there for 4 years.
The roof where work has been completed on the main temple structure.

   The main temple structure was rebuilt by Kunichika Chosokabe and his son Motochika, and its roof was replaced in March of 2014 for the first time in 20 years using a method known as shingling. Shingling involves placing plank after plank on top of the other, which brought it back to its former beauty. Beginning with the main structure, 2 Bhaisajyaguru (Buddha able to heal all ills) and a temple bell created during establishment which is also the oldest in Kochi Prefecture remain as designated important cultural assets. The earthen walls and dirt mounds still stand, making the entire grounds a historic site and the beautiful hair moss of the gardens have made this temple to become known as the “Tosa Moss Temple”.
Kokubunji̛s stamp.
Visitors on Henro to Kokubunji
   This year marks the 1200th year since the opening of the Shikoku sacred grounds, with more people doing the Henro Pilgrimage than in the previous year. On weekends roughly 1000 people visit Kokubunji, or roughly 200-300 per day. Most Japanese pilgrims are retired. In comparison, there is a tendency for foreign pilgrims to be young people in their 20s and 30s. Those new to henro often use tours with their own guides, however repeaters and foreigners go alone, in small groups, or with their significant other and many of them still walk the pilgrimage.
The fierce guardian gods standing
 to the left and right of the main gate.

   At Kokubunji, they have made their website available in English as well to let more people know about the temple. In the past, some Australian males in their teens studying Japanese saw the website and visited Kokubunji. They also met up with a woman from New York who they met over the internet at Kokubunji making it a wonderful encounter for them. Another time, a foreign pilgrim who didn’t speak Japanese and had no phone and spoke with gestures while looking at a map required a bit of help and was driven to where he was staying.

   Chief Priest Ryuko Hayashi mentioned that perhaps the increase of foreigners doing the pilgrimage in the past few years was perhaps due to “people gathering information on the internet about the Shikoku Pilgrimage like that of the Spain Pilgrimage and Mecca Pilgrimage” and at the same time mentioned that “I want people to see Kokubunji, and to introduce local sights”.
 Address: 546 Kokubu, Nankoku City 〒783-0053
 Tel: 088-862-0055
 Directions: From JR Gomen Station take the bus towards Ueta for 10 mins. Alight at Kokubunjidori and walk west for 5 mins.

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