Temple 88: Okuboji

Name: Okuboji

Some Information: This is the final temple of the O-henro circuit… but WAIT, to complete the circle you will need to walk back to the Number 1 temple, Ryouzenji (the distance is 38.8 kilometres)

Interesting Features: What makes this temple interesting is that this is the supposed end of the journey. It is here that Kobo Daishi left his walking stick (enshrined here) and where many pilgrims follow suit and leave theirs too.

There are crutches left here by people who claim to have been miraculously cured while on pilgrimage.

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The main deity of this temple is Yakushi Nyorai. Yakushi Nyorai is the Buddha of Medicine. “Yakushi” means, “medicine teacher”. He is typically displayed as holding a medicine jar in his left hand and the right hand is raised in a “fear not” position. Sometimes the left hand is in a “wish granting” position instead.

Will you leave your staff here, or will you take it with you for your next journey?

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The name of this temple is derived from a large hole that is reported to have once been here. The first temple was built in the year 717 and later rebuilt by Kobo Daishi.

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On the bottom of this photo mosaic you can see the big staff, called a “shakujou”. It has the large metal rings on the sides. Here is where the walking sticks are kept, and then are later ritually burned.

In front of the giant staff you will see a burning flame. This is in remembrance of those who have been lost to nuclear war. The characters read, “Fire of the atomic bomb”. This is a temple for healing, and this memorial a reminder that we must heal our world from hate and violence that inevitably leads to human destruction and the annihilation of our future.

Lest we forget.

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Many miles were traveled.
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Kobo Daishi

 

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Looking down the steps towards the gate.
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You have come a long way to be here!

There may be a lot of things for you to reflect on when you come to the end of this journey. But you have but one last part ahead, to walk back to the first temple, Ryouzenji, and inform Kobo Daishi that you have completed your journey.

It may be difficult to summarize what it is you have come to know on this journey. Did you have some kind of epiphany on the way? Did you develop a new insight into your own life and motivations? Did you come to understand the people who touch your life having had some time and space to see it more objectively?

Sometimes we find answers that we are looking for on the road. Sometimes we are not yet finished with our journeys and continue on. But coming this far is no small feat. The light still shines through the trees on the paths we walk. There are places yet for us to discover, and our feet will lead us further down the road.