2. 88 Temples
  3. Temple 1, Ryōzenji

Temple 1, Ryōzenji

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Precinct map


History of the Temple

The route of the Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage on Shikoku Island covers a total distance of approximately 1,460 kilometers. For those who visit the temples in number order, this is usually the temple of initiation and the beginning of a long journey traveled as dogyo ninin (we two going together), meaning that Kobo Daishi is always with you on the pilgrimage.

According to legend, Ryōzenji was founded by Gyoki by order of Emperor Shomu (reigned 724-749). Kobo Daishi visited this temple in 815 during a pilgrimage starting from the northeastern part of Shikoku and going clockwise around the island. He engaged in Buddhist rituals for 37 days to establish a sacred site to purify the 88 earthly desires of mankind, both physical and spiritual desires. He saw an image of many monks surrounding and listening attentively to an elderly master who was teaching the Buddha Dharma. Kobo Daishi felt this was similar to the scene of Buddha preaching at Vulture Peak of India. This is why he named this temple Jikuwazan, Ryōzenji (Vulture’s Peak Temple), in a sense transferring India’s sacred mountain to Japan.

At that time, Kobo Daishi had a statue of the birth of Buddha. It was a small bronze statue about 14 cm in height, made in the Hakuho era (645-710). Kobo Daishi placed it in front of the principal image of the temple and prayed for the establishment of 88 sacred sites on Shikoku Island, with this temple as the first site.

Ryōzenji was once one of the three largest Buddhist temples in Awa (the former name of Tokushima) and was a majestic temple complex. However, the temple was burned down by Chosokabe Motochika, the lord of Tosa (the former name of Kochi Prefecture), in 1582. The temple was restored by Hachisuka Mitsutaka, the lord of Awa (Tokushima), but in a fire in 1891, all the buildings except the hondo and the pagoda were lost again. The temple has now been restored.



Two-Storied Pagoda

Ryōzenji was destroyed by fire during the Tensho period (1573-1592) when Chosokabe Motochika attacked the temple. The temple was devastated again in 1891, leaving only the pagoda and the hondo. The pagoda was built in the Oei period (1394-1428), nearly 600 years ago. It is famous for statues of the Gochi Nyorai (five wisdom Buddhas).

Matchmaking Kannon

The Matchmaking Kannon Bosatsu (Bodhisattva Who Hears the Sounds of the World) brings good luck not only with marriages but also with health, work, happiness, and other relationships. People believe that they can achieve these blessings not only by offering money, but also by praying while purifying themselves with water in front of this statue.

Meiji no Niwa (Meiji Garden)

Located to the north of the Daishido, this garden symbolizes Ryōzenji as the temple of initiation, where the pilgrims truly begin their pilgrimage.


For most people, this is the first temple of the pilgrimage. It is important for pilgrims to be well prepared for a long pilgrimage so they don’t get into trouble along the way or cause problems for others. Here at the first temple, pilgrims should prepare their hearts and minds.


Annual Event

January 1-3 Shogatsu Gomakito (New Year’s Goma fire ritual)
February 3 Hoshi Matsuri (Purifying fire ritual)
February 21 to the last day of the month Settaiko
First Sunday in April Hana Matsuri (Buddha’s Birthday)
June 15 Aoba Matsuri (Kobo Daishi’s Birthday)
1st day of every month Gomakito (Goma fire ritual)
21st day of every month Mieiku (Memorial service for Kobo Daishi)



Number: Temple 1
Names: Jikuwazan, Ichijōin, Ryōzenji
Denomination: Koyasan Shingon sect
Principal Image: Shaka Nyorai (The historical Buddha, Shakyamuni)
Founder: Gyoki
Founded: Tempyo era (729-749)
Mantra of Shaka Nyorai: Nomaku Sanmanda Bodanan Baku



Address: 126, Tsukahana, Bando, Oasa Town, Naruto City, Tokushima 779-0230
Phone: 088-689-1111
Parking: 100 cars, 10-20 buses, free of charge
Lodging: None
Official website: None