Konsenji Temple, Tokushima 金泉寺
The Shikoku Pilgrimage consists of 88 temples around the island of Shikoku, and to visit all of them involves a journey of about 1,200 kilometres. However, the first six temples, located in Tokushima prefecture, are close enough together so that even visiting them on foot, the traditional way to do the pilgrimage, they can easily be visited in a single day, and is quite popular among people who want the flavour and experience of the pilgrimage but lack the time or inclination to try the whole thing.
Temple number three, Konsenji, is located in Itano Town about 2.5 kilometers from temple number two, Gokurakuji, and like it, the founding legend has the temple being founded in the early 8th century by the itinerant monk Gyoki who is also credited with carving the honzon of Shaka Nyorai, the Japanese name for Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha.
Kobo Daishi later visited and performed a miracle that is claimed hundreds, if not thousands of times all over Japan - he struck the ground and water gushed forth.
Kosenji means "Golden Well Temple" or "Golden Spring Temple" and the well in the grounds has the somewhat macabre legend that if you peer into it and see your face reflected you will live to be 92, but if you can't see your face you will die within three days. Most sources guarantee that in daylight you will see your reflection. Another feature of note within the grounds is a large boulder known as Benkei's Stone.
The story goes that Benkei, the larger than life sidekick of Yoshitsune, lifted the boulder as a display of his strength while stopping at the temple on their way to the famous battle at Yashima Island.
Like so many other temples in the area, Konsenji was destroyed by the forces of warlord Motohika Chosokabe in his campaign to unify the whole island of Shikoku under his rules at the end of the 17th century.
Rebuilt in the Edo Period, the temple has a large, vermillion gate housing a pair of fierce Nio guardians, though if you arrive at the temple by following the pilgrimage trail, it veers away from the main road and takes some quiet back lanes before entering the temple from the rear so you won't see the gate till you leave.
As well as the main hall, the Daishi Hall enshrines Kobo Daishi, the focus of the pilgrimage. There is a nice two-storey pagoda, as well as a hall containing statues of Enma, the King of Hell. Scattered throughout the grounds are other statues including Kannon and Fudo Myo. When first arriving by the pilgrimage trail there is a pretty Benten shrine in the middle of a small lotus pond.
Konsenji Temple Access
66 Odera-Kameyama-shita, Itano, Tokushima 779-0105
Tel: 088 672 1087
The temple is a ten minute walk from Itano Station on the JR Kotoku Line. Itano Station is 25 minutes from Tokushima Station on a local train or just 15 minutes on a Limited Express train.
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