If you follow our posts regularly, you’ll know about the famed Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage around temples connected to the revered Buddhist monk Kukai (774 - 835). Kochi is home to temples 24 through 39 on the route, and today we’ll introduce a self-guided mini pilgrimage taking in numbers 35 and 36. Starting and ending at Kochi Station, our recommended route covers 16 kilometers and will probably take most people around six hours, depending on your pace. Although you could certainly do it as a day trip, we suggest adding to the experience with an overnight stay at a Japanese seaside inn (read on for details)!
After traveling to Ino Station (just 30 minutes from Kochi Station by train), catch a taxi to Kiyotaki-ji, the 35th temple, which stands on a hillside at the end of a narrow, winding road. Look out for the fine examples of carved dragons as you climb the long steps and pass through the main gate. You’ll soon see an impressive 15-meter statue (pedestal height included) of Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of healing. Behind the statue to the right of the main hall is a waterfall. It’s said that the pure water flows thanks to Kukai, who prayed for a good harvest and struck the ground with his walking staff. You’ll also have a wonderful view over Tosa City and the Pacific Ocean from up here
You’ll then be traversing some roads that feel ancient (particularly Tsukaji Pass), through Tosa City and on to the fishing village of Usa and out along the ocean, eventually coming to the 36th temple, Shoryu-ji. It’s located in a hidden valley with a road lined with small Buddhist statues, adding an element of mystery as you make your way there. The statue of the main deity here, Namikiri Fudo, might look a little scary but this benevolent god protects people at sea and binds people to good (hence the ropes in his hands)! Local fishermen prayed to him for marine safety and a good catch of fish
And speaking of fish, why not treat yourself to a fresh seafood dinner and stay at the nearby Sanyo-so (hot spring inn)? Enjoy a relaxing bath as a reward for your efforts, then take the ryokan’s shuttle bus back to Kochi Station the following day