Temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Shikoku 88 Temples

There have been many temples and ascetic training areas associated with Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai) in Shikoku since ancient times. Among them, 88 temples are best known today. They are called “88 sacred sites of Shikoku,” which are selected in the Edo period.

The 88 temples are not unified by a particular religious order or authority, but each of them is independent with different origins. Most of the temples are Shingon Sect, but there are also other sects, such as the Zen sects. They are located in a variety of places, including urban areas, on mountains, by the sea, or in rice paddies. Some temples are simple and unadorned, while others are marked by tall pagodas and vermilion paint, and each of them has a unique appeal. With such diversity, we are sure that you will find a temple that will touch your heart.

They are numbered from 1 to 88 and are generally scattered along the coastline of Shikoku in a circuitous manner. The starting point and order of visits are up to the pilgrim, but it is believed that the stages of ascetic practice (Dojo) progress in order starting with the first temple.

Tokushima Prefecture T1-T23The Dojo of Resolving To Awaken. Making this resolution and beginning to take action.
Kochi PrefectureT24-T39The Dojo of Ascetic Practice. Training to raise your spiritual nature.
Ehime PrefectureT40-T65The Dojo of Enlightenment. Cutting through worldly passions (klesha) and going towards Amida’s Pure Land.
Kagawa PrefectureT66-T88The Dojo of Nirvana. That transcendent state of liberation where worldly desires have been defeated.

Website of the Shikoku 88 Sacred Sites Inc.  https://88shikokuhenro.jp/en/

Shikoku Bekkaku 20 Temples

In addition to the 88 sacred sites on Shikoku, there are many other sacred sites on Shikoku, called “Bangai Temples.” In 1968, 20 of these temples were organized to form the “Shikoku Bekkaku 20 Temples.” The total of the 88 temples and the Bekkaku 20 temples is 108, which is the same number as the number of human vexations; the Shikoku Pilgrimage is therefore thought to be a path to the destruction of vexations.

When making a pilgrimage, it is acceptable to go round the Bekkaku 20 temples after visiting all the 88 temples or to go round the 88 temples and Bekkaku 20 temples at the same time. Since the Bekkaku 20 temples are not necessarily located on the 88 temple pilgrimage course, stopping at the Bekkaku 20 temples increases the total distance by about 160 km. You can receive a Bekkaku temple stamp in your stamp book as with the 88 temples, and also collect prayer beads (nenjudama) which are distributed only at the Bekkaku 20 temples.

Website of the Association of Shikoku Bekkaku 20 Temples  http://www.bekkaku.com