Posts Tagged With: Wakayama Prefecture

Things to do: Have your dinner blessed by a Koyasan monk

jingumae_koyakun-640Monks have taken over the menus at restaurants in the posh Shin-Marunouchi building in Tokyo to offer real soul food.

Throughout the weeklong Koyasan Cafe event, diners can fill their stomachs and their spirits with Buddhist-inspired dishes.

Koyasan Cafe takes its name from the spiritual center of Japanese Buddhism, Koyasan in Wakayama Prefecture. Also known as Mount Koya, it is the last resting place of the eighth-century monk Kukai, the headquarters of the Shingon sect he founded and, as of 2004, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Nankai Railway brought the event to Tokyo six years ago, aiming to attract visitors and pilgrims to Koyasan.

The participating monks also hope to deliver some of the values from their holy mountain to busy urban dwellers who have come to take the dining experience for granted.

“ ‘Shojin ryori‘ doesn’t simply mean abstaining from meat and fish,” for religious or health reasons, says Hogen Yabu, one of the monks. “Behind it is the concept of striving to bring oneself to higher enlightenment.”

buddhist monks

Nine restaurants and bars in the Shin-Marunouchi Building, located opposite Tokyo Station, are involved in the project. In addition to the food, there are chanting performances, meditation lessons and opportunities to sit down and ask questions directly to the monks.

Among the eateries are Henry Good Seven, So Tired, Tiki Bar Tokyo and Rigoletto Wine and Bar. But don’t be surprised that their names don’t exactly hint at Buddhist ascetic. Each place has gone to town with its own version of Japanese shojin ryori, once simple but now elaborate meals forgoing meat and based around vegetables and tofu. Henry Good Seven for example offers chilled cappellini with yuzu and fruit tomatoes; So Tired offers Chinese-style sweet-and-sour “pork” (made from soybeans); while Tiki Bar Tokyo presents shojin tacos and terrine made from tomatoes, cucumbers and kanten (agar-agar) gelatin. Then there are desserts such as a blancmange of mango, kiwi, kanten and soy milk available at the European-inspired Japanese restaurant Sawamura. Altogether there are 35 original shojin ryori dishes to savor.

It all sounds tempting, but eating the bare minimum is one of the first lessons that the monks hope to teach.

“So much food goes to waste these days,” Yabu says. “We want Japanese to re-examine what it really means when they say ‘itadakimasu’ (‘I receive humbly’) before eating a meal–to show gratitude to the food itself by controlling your passions and taking just enough.”

For details and schedule see the official website at (



Categories: history of Japan, Japanese customs, Must see, Stories about Japan, Things to do, Where to eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking news: Japanese couple marries under water

Original story by Tokyo desu



A Wakayama Prefecture couple tied the knot 13 meters underwater June 29.

36 year-old diving instructor Yasuko Emoto proposed the unusual ceremony for the couple, which was attended by 30 diving certified friends and approximately 8000 mackerel.

The happy couple sealed their vows in front of some guy in a suit – they couldn’t find a diving certified priest – with an enthusiastic “glub glub glub glub!” and the internationally recognized diving signal for “OK.”

ScreenHunter_171 Jul. 02 19.24

Wrong signal.

While an underwater ceremony presents numerous logistical difficulties, there are certainly perks: rain can’t really ruin a wedding that’s already submerged in 13 meters of saltwater, and there’s no need for the bride to fuss with her hair.

We can only imagine what beach sunbathers thought when the procession emerged from the sea post-wedding looking like the cast of The Little Mermaid.


Categories: News about Japan, Stories about Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things to do: Shikoku 88 temples pilgrimage tour, walk in the footsteps of the Buddhist monk Kūkai

The Shikoku Pilgrimage (四国遍路 Shikoku Henro) or Shikoku Junrei (四国巡礼) is a multi-site pilgrimage of 88 temples associated with the Buddhist monk Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi) on the island of ShikokuJapan. A popular and distinctive feature of the island’s cultural landscape, and with a long history, large numbers of pilgrims (known as henro (遍路)) still undertake the journey for a variety of ascetic,pious, and tourism-related purposes.

In addition to the 88 “official” temples of the pilgrimage, there are over 200 bangai — temples not considered part of the official 88. To complete the pilgrimage, it is not necessary to visit the temples in order; in some cases it is even considered lucky to travel in reverse order. The pilgrimage is traditionally completed on foot, but modern pilgrims use cars, taxis, buses, bicycles, or motorcycles. The walking course is approximately 1,200 km long and can take anywhere from 30 to 60 days to complete. “Henro” (遍路) is the Japanese word for pilgrim, and the inhabitants of Shikoku call the pilgrims o-henro-san (お遍路さん), the o (お) being a honorific and the san (さん) a title similar to “Mr.” or “Mrs.”. They are often recognizable by their white clothing, sedge hats, and kongō-tsue or walking sticks. Alms or osettai are frequently given. Many pilgrims begin and complete the journey by visiting Mount Kōya inWakayama Prefecture, which was settled by Kūkai and remains the headquarters of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. The 21 km walking trail up to Koya-san still exists, but most pilgrims use the train.

Attesting to the popularity of the Shikoku pilgrimage, from the eighteenth century a number of smaller imitative versions have been established. These include a 150km circuit on the island of Shōdoshima, northeast of Takamatsu; a 3km course on the grounds of Ninna-ji in Kyoto; a route on the Chita Peninsula near Nagoya; and circuits in Edo and Chiba Prefecture.

The history


Pilgrimages have played an important part in Japanese religious practice since at least the Heian period. Typically centred upon holy mountains, particular divinities, or charismatic individuals, they are usually to Buddhist sites although those to the shrines of Kumano and Ise are notable exceptions.

Kōbō Daishi

Kūkai, born at Zentsū-ji (Temple 75) in 774, studied in China, and upon his return was influential in the promotion of esoteric Buddhism. He established the Shingon retreat of Kōya-san, was an active writer, undertook a programme of public works, and during visits to the island of his birth is popularly said to have established or visited many of its temples and to have carved many of their images. He is posthumously known as Kōbō Daishi.

Proof of passage

The legends and cult of Kōbō Daishi, such as the episode of Emon Saburō, were maintained and developed by the monks of Kōya-san who travelled to expound Shingon and were active, along with other hijiri, in Shikoku. In the Edo period, the policy of tochi kinbaku (土地緊縛) restricted and regulated the movement of ordinary people. Pilgrims were required to obtain travel permits, follow the main paths, and pass through localities within a certain time limit, with the book of temple stamps or nōkyō-chō helping to provide proof of passage.


Shikoku literally means four provinces, those of AwaTosaIyo, and Sanuki, reorganised during the Meiji period into the Prefectures of TokushimaKōchiEhime, and Kagawa. The pilgrim’s journey through these four provinces is likened to a symbolic path to enlightenment, with temples 1-23 representing the idea of awakening (発心 hosshin), 24-39 austerity and discipline (修行shugyō), 40-65 attaining enlightenment (菩提 bodai), and 66-88 entering nirvana (涅槃 nehan).


The pilgrim’s traditional costume comprises a white shirt (白衣 oizuru), conical Asian hat (すげ笠 suge-kasa), and kongō-zue (金剛杖). This may be supplemented by a wagesa (輪袈裟). Thehenro also carries a bag (ずだ袋 zuda-bukuro) containing name slips (納札 osame-fuda), prayer beads (数珠 juzu) (also known as nenju (念珠)), a nōkyō-chō (納経帳), incense sticks (線香senkō), and coins used as offerings (お賽銭 o-saisen). The more religiously-minded henro may also carry a book of sutras (経本 kyōbon) and go-eika (ご詠歌) set with a bell.


Upon arrival at each temple the henro washes before proceeding to the Hondō. After offering coins, incense, and the osame-fuda, the Heart Sutra (般若心経 Hannya Shingyō) is chanted along with repetition of the Mantra of the main image (本尊 honzon) and the Mantra of Light (光明真言 Kōmyō Shingon). After kigan and ekō prayers, the henro proceeds to the Daishidō. Coins and a fuda are similarly offered, and again the Heart Sutra is chanted, along with repetition of the Gohōgō Mantra, namu-Daishi-henjō-kong.

The 88 Temples

map of the Shikoku Pilgrimage and the 88 temples

Collectively, the 88 temples are known as Shikoku Hachijūhakkasho (四国八十八箇所) or simply the Hachijūhakkasho (八十八箇所).

No. Temple Honzon (main image) City/Town/Village Prefecture Image
1 Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺) Shaka Nyorai Naruto Tokushima Prefecture

English: Main gate, Ryozen-ji 日本語: 霊山寺山門

English: Main gate, Ryozen-ji 日本語: 霊山寺山門 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 Gokuraku-ji (極楽寺) Amida Nyorai Naruto Tokushima Prefecture


nishozan-gokurakuji-main (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 Konsen-ji (金泉寺) Shaka Nyorai Itano Tokushima Prefecture Konsenji 01.JPG
4 Dainichi-ji (大日寺) Dainichi Nyorai Itano Tokushima Prefecture P4022426ー4番大日寺夫婦遍路.jpg
5 Jizō-ji (地蔵寺) Enmei Jizō Bosatsu Itano Tokushima Prefecture Mujinzan Jizoji 01.JPG
6 Anraku-ji (安楽寺) Yakushi Nyorai Kamiita Tokushima Prefecture


onsenzan-anrakuji-tahouto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7 Jūraku-ji (十楽寺) Amida Nyorai Awa Tokushima Prefecture P4022616ー7番十楽寺本堂.jpg
8 Kumadani-ji (熊谷寺) Senjū Kannon Awa Tokushima Prefecture P4022665-8番 熊谷寺山門から本堂への石段.jpg
9 Hōrin-ji (法輪寺) Shaka Nyorai Awa Tokushima Prefecture Shokakuzan Horinji 01.JPG
10 Kirihata-ji (切幡寺) Senjū Kannon Awa Tokushima Prefecture Kirihataji 03.JPG
11 Fujii-dera (藤井寺) Yakushi Nyorai Yoshinogawa Tokushima Prefecture Fujiizenji 02.JPG
12 Shōsan-ji (焼山寺) Kokūzō Bosatsu Kamiyama Tokushima Prefecture Shozanji 02.JPG
13 Dainichi-ji (大日寺) Jūichimen Kannon Tokushima Tokushima Prefecture Ogurizan Dainichiji 03.JPG
14 Jōraku-ji (常楽寺) Miroku Bosatsu Tokushima Tokushima Prefecture Seijuzan Jorakuji 06.JPG
15 Awa Kokubun-ji (阿波国分寺) Yakushi Nyorai Tokushima Tokushima Prefecture Awa Kokubunji 12.JPG
16 Kannon-ji (観音寺) Senjū Kannon Tokushima Tokushima Prefecture Kanonji, Tokushima 02.JPG
17 Ido-ji (井戸寺) Yakushi Nyorai Tokushima Tokushima Prefecture Idoji Hondo.jpg
18 Onzan-ji (恩山寺) Yakushi Nyorai Komatsushima Tokushima Prefecture Onzanji 06.JPG
19 Tatsue-ji (立江寺) Jizō Bosatsu Komatsushima Tokushima Prefecture Tatueji 03.JPG
20 Kakurin-ji (鶴林寺) Jizō Bosatsu Katsuura Tokushima Prefecture Ryojuzan Kakurinji 05.JPG
21 Tairyūji (太竜寺) Kokūzō Bosatsu Anan Tokushima Prefecture Tairyuji 05.JPG
22 Byōdō-ji (平等寺) Yakushi Nyorai Anan Tokushima Prefecture

English: Byōdō-ji temple 日本語: 平等寺境内

English: Byōdō-ji temple 日本語: 平等寺境内 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

23 Yakuō-ji (薬王寺) Yakushi Nyorai Minami Tokushima Prefecture Yakuoji 02.JPG
24 Hotsumisaki-ji (最御崎寺) Kokūzō Bosatsu Muroto Kōchi Prefecture Hotsumisakiji 02.JPG
25 Shinshō-ji (津照寺) Jizō Bosatsu Muroto Kōchi Prefecture Shinshoji 04.JPG
26 Kongōchō-ji (金剛頂寺) Yakushi Nyorai Muroto Kōchi Prefecture Kongochoji,龍頭山金剛頂寺 大師堂(室戸市)、26番札所 高知県室戸市元崎山 DSCF7169.JPG
27 Kōnomine-ji (神峰寺) Jūichimen Kannon Yasuda Kōchi Prefecture Kounomineji 05.JPG
28 Dainichi-ji (大日寺) Dainichi Nyorai Kōnan Kōchi Prefecture Houkaisan Dainichiji 05.JPG
29 Tosa Kokubun-ji (土佐国分寺) Senjū Kannon Nankoku Kōchi Prefecture Tosa Kokubunji 04.JPG
30 Zenrakuji (善楽寺) Amida Nyorai Kōchi Kōchi Prefecture

Zenrakuji in Kochi, Kochi prefecture, Japan

Zenrakuji in Kochi, Kochi prefecture, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

31 Chikurin-ji (竹林寺) Monju Bosatsu Kōchi Kōchi Prefecture

Chikurinji in Kochi, Kochi prefecture, Japan

Chikurinji in Kochi, Kochi prefecture, Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

32 Zenjibu-ji (禅師峰寺) Jūichimen Kannon Nankoku Kōchi Prefecture Zenjibuji 05.JPG
33 Sekkei-ji (雪蹊寺) Yakushi Nyorai Kōchi Kōchi Prefecture

English: Sekkei-ji temple 日本語: 雪蹊寺境内

English: Sekkei-ji temple 日本語: 雪蹊寺境内 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

34 Tanema-ji (種間寺) Yakushi Nyorai Haruno Kōchi Prefecture Tanemaji 03.JPG
35 Kiyotaki-ji (清滝寺) Yakushi Nyorai Tosa Kōchi Prefecture Iozan Kiyotakiji 05.JPG
36 Shōryū-ji (青竜寺) Fudō Myōō Tosa Kōchi Prefecture Shoryuji 03.JPG
37 Iwamoto-ji (岩本寺) Five Buddhas Shimanto Kōchi Prefecture

English: Iwamoto-ji temple 日本語: 岩本寺 境内

English: Iwamoto-ji temple 日本語: 岩本寺 境内 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

38 Kongōfuku-ji (金剛福寺) Senjū Kannon Tosashimizu Kōchi Prefecture Kongofukuji 05.JPG
39 Enkō-ji (延光寺) Yakushi Nyorai Sukumo Kōchi Prefecture Enkouji 01.JPG
40 Kanjizai-ji (観自在寺) Yakushi Nyorai Ainan Ehime Prefecture Kanjizaiji 07.JPG
41 Ryūkōji (竜光寺) Jūichimen Kannon Uwajima Ehime Prefecture Inarizan Ryukoji 04.JPG
42 Butsumoku-ji (佛木寺) Dainichi Nyorai Uwajima Ehime Prefecture

English: Belfry, Butsumoku-ji 日本語: 佛木寺 鐘楼

English: Belfry, Butsumoku-ji 日本語: 佛木寺 鐘楼 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

43 Meiseki-ji (明石寺) Senjū Kannon Seiyo Ehime Prefecture Meisekiji 01.JPG
44 Daihō-ji (大宝寺) Jūichimen Kannon Kumakōgen Ehime Prefecture Sugozan Daihoji 03.JPG
45 Iwaya-ji (岩屋寺) Fudō Myōō Kumakōgen Ehime Prefecture Iwayadera temple.jpg
46 Jōruri-ji (浄瑠璃寺) Yakushi Nyorai Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture Iozan Joruriji 03.JPG
47 Yasaka-ji (八坂寺) Amida Nyorai Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture Yasakaji 03.JPG
48 Sairin-ji (西林寺) Jūichimen Kannon Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture Seiryuzan Sairinji 01.JPG
49 Jōdo-ji (浄土寺) Shaka Nyorai Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture Jodoji-matsuyama 01.JPG
50 Hanta-ji (繁多寺) Yakushi Nyorai Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture 50番繁多寺本堂P1010126.jpg
51 Ishite-ji (石手寺) Yakushi Nyorai Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture Ishiteji 05.JPG
52 Taisan-ji (太山寺) Jūichimen Kannon Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture Ryuunzan Taisanji 06.JPG
53 Enmyō-ji (円明寺) Amida Nyorai Matsuyama Ehime Prefecture Enmyoji 02.JPG
54 Enmei-ji (延命寺) Fudō Myōō Imabari Ehime Prefecture Chikamizan Enmeiji 04.JPG
55 Nankōbō (南光坊) Daitsū-chishō Butsu Imabari Ehime Prefecture Nankobo 01.JPG
56 Taisan-ji (泰山寺) Jizō Bosatsu Imabari Ehime Prefecture Taisanji 04.JPG
57 Eifuku-ji (栄福寺) Amida Nyorai Imabari Ehime Prefecture

English: Eifuku-ji temple 日本語: 栄福寺境内

English: Eifuku-ji temple 日本語: 栄福寺境内 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

58 Senyū-ji (仙遊寺) Senjū Kannon Imabari Ehime Prefecture Senyuji 03.JPG
59 Iyo Kokubun-ji (伊予国分寺) Yakushi Nyorai Imabari Ehime Prefecture

English: Belfry, Kokubun-ji Italiano: 国分寺 鐘楼

English: Belfry, Kokubun-ji Italiano: 国分寺 鐘楼 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

60 Yokomine-ji (横峰寺) Dainichi Nyorai Saijō Ehime Prefecture Yokomineji 06.jpg
61 Kōon-ji (香園寺) Dainichi Nyorai Saijō Ehime Prefecture Koonji 02.JPG
62 Hōju-ji (宝寿寺) Jūichimen Kannon Saijō Ehime Prefecture

English: Hōju-ji temple 日本語: 宝寿寺境内

English: Hōju-ji temple 日本語: 宝寿寺境内 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

63 Kichijō-ji (吉祥寺) Bishamonten Saijō Ehime Prefecture Mikkyozan Kichijoji 02.JPG
64 Maegami-ji (前神寺) Amida Nyorai Saijō Ehime Prefecture Maegamiji 03.JPG
65 Sankaku-ji (三角寺) Jūichimen Kannon Shikokuchūō Ehime Prefecture Sankakuji 01.JPG
66 Unpen-ji (雲辺寺) Senjū Kannon Miyoshi Tokushima Prefecture Unpenji 05.JPG
67 Daikō-ji (大興寺) Yakushi Nyorai Mitoyo Kagawa Prefecture Daikoji 07.JPG
68 Jinne-in (神恵院) Amida Nyorai Kan’onji Kagawa Prefecture Jinnein 03.JPG
69 Kannon-ji (観音寺) Shō Kannon Kan’onji Kagawa Prefecture Shippozan Kanonji 08.JPG
70 Motoyama-ji (本山寺) Batō Kannon Mitoyo Kagawa Prefecture MotoyamaJi,Kagawa-01.jpg
71 Iyadani-ji (弥谷寺) Senjū Kannon Mitoyo Kagawa Prefecture Iyadaniji-hondou02.jpg
72 Mandara-ji (曼荼羅寺) Dainichi Nyorai Zentsūji Kagawa Prefecture Gahaishizan Mandaraji 03.JPG
73 Shusshakaji (出釈迦寺) Shaka Nyorai Zentsūji Kagawa Prefecture Shusshakaji 05.JPG
74 Kōyama-ji (甲山寺) Yakushi Nyorai Zentsūji Kagawa Prefecture Koyamaji 04.JPG
75 Zentsū-ji (善通寺) Yakushi Nyorai Zentsūji Kagawa Prefecture Zentsu-ji in Zentsu-ji City Kagawa pref23s5s4500.jpg
76 Konzō-ji (金倉寺) Yakushi Nyorai Zentsūji Kagawa Prefecture Konzoji 03.JPG
77 Dōryū-ji (道隆寺) Yakushi Nyorai Tadotsu Kagawa Prefecture Doryuji 04.JPG
78 Gōshō-ji (郷照寺) Amida Nyorai Utazu Kagawa Prefecture Goshoji 04.JPG
79 Tennō-ji (天皇寺) Jūichimen Kannon Sakaide Kagawa Prefecture Tennoji Koshoin 02.JPG
80 Sanuki Kokubun-ji (讃岐国分寺) Jūichimen & Senjū Kannon Takamatsu Kagawa Prefecture Sanuki Kokubunji 05.JPG
81 Shiromine-ji (白峯寺) Senjū Kannon Sakaide Kagawa Prefecture

English: Tonshōjiden temple, Shiromine-ji 日本語:...

English: Tonshōjiden temple, Shiromine-ji 日本語: 白峰寺 頓証寺殿境内 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

82 Negoro-ji (根香寺) Senjū Kannon Takamatsu Kagawa Prefecture Aominezan Negoroji 03.JPG
83 Ichinomiya-ji (一宮寺) Shō Kannon Takamatsu Kagawa Prefecture

English: Belfry, Ichinomiya-ji 日本語: 一宮寺 鐘楼

English: Belfry, Ichinomiya-ji 日本語: 一宮寺 鐘楼 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

84 Yashima-ji (屋島寺) Jūichimen & Senjū Kannon Takamatsu Kagawa Prefecture Yashimaji 06.JPG
85 Yakuri-ji (八栗寺) Shō Kannon Takamatsu Kagawa Prefecture Yakuriji 01.JPG
86 Shido-ji (志度寺) Jūichimen Kannon Sanuki Kagawa Prefecture Shidoji 01.JPG
87 Nagao-ji (長尾寺) Shō Kannon Sanuki Kagawa Prefecture

English: Nagao-ji temple 日本語: 長尾寺境内

English: Nagao-ji temple 日本語: 長尾寺境内 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

88 Ōkubo-ji (大窪寺) Yakushi Nyorai Sanuki Kagawa Prefecture Okuboji 07.JPG

Categories: history of Japan, Japanese customs, Stories about Japan, Things to do | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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