During our mid-November trip to Kochi earlier this year, we had the opportunity to visit “Chikurinji,” a temple located on top of Mt. Godaisan. Other than being the 31st temple on the list of 88 temples Shikoku Pilgrimage list, this temple is also home to beautiful autumn leaves.
The stairs leading to the temple grounds were enveloped with greenery as well as slight hues of orange and yellow. Since autumn was just beginning in Japan, the leaves of some trees hadn’t yet changed colors.
After navigating through a path of trees, buildings of the main temple grounds, “Main Hall” and “Five-Storied Pagoda,” came into view. As I approached the main hall, I realized that it was decorated with bright-colored flags. Mesmerized and relatively curious, I approached the main hall and asked a monk who was standing nearby. He promptly explained that these flags are usually hung up during “hare-no-hi” (a sunny day) which signify celebratory occasions such as new years, and that the colors (white, red, yellow, green, black, purple) represents the light behind Buddha.
The “Main Hall”
In the main hall rests Manjushri, a bodhisattva who grants wisdom to those who visit. Because of this, Chikurinji tends to get a lot of students who visit in the hopes of passing entrance exams.
“A Sunny Day” at the main hall
Across from the main hall is another complex with a sizable metal box nearby. The monk explained to us that during the pilgrimage of 88 temples around the Shikoku region, people would put “osamefuda” or “nosatsu” name slips into the box to show that they have visited the temple. The inside of the box was decorated with an array of colored slips which represents the frequency of visits to a temple during the pilgrimage: white signifies 1-3 times and a glorious rainbow-ish brocade pattern represents a total 100 times.
Proceeding a little bit passed the box brings you to stairs leading up to the “Five-Stored Pagoda” and the “Hito-koto-jizo” (One Wish Granting Jizo).
The Five-Storied Pagoda
According to the monk, in praying to the “Hito-koto-jizo,” one should not be greedy and wish for only one thing. Additionally, a vague or ambiguous wish (one where you can’t provide a clear method or way of achievement) will go ungranted. The reasoning behind it is that Buddha is “protector” of wishes and will help you in making your own wishes come true.
For those of you who have a little extra time, we suggest stopping by the temple garden located near the entrance on your way back down the stone steps. Although the garden is located in a part of the main hall which visitors have to pay to enter, it is well-kept and is a great spot for viewing autumn leaves.
The temple garden
If you’re looking to relax and walk around a little bit more after Chikurinji, we suggest checking out the nearby Makino Botanical Garden which is only a couple of minutes’ walk away.
Address: 3577 Godaisan, Kochi, Kōchi Prefecture
Hours of Operation: 9:00am ～ 5:00pm
The easiest way to get to Chikurinji is via the My Yu Bus. The unlimited one-day pass from Kochi Station to Godaisan can be purchased at Kochi Station for 600 yen. If you’re also thinking of heading to the Katsurahama (beach area), then the unlimited one-day pass can be purchased for 1000 yen.
*Please note that showing your passport at the counter will get you half off of the bus pass.