Yakuoji (薬王寺) is the 23rd temple of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, and the last temple in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan. It was built in 726, commissioned by the emperor. The temple grounds rest on a steep hill. It offers a scenic view of Hiwasa Bay and Hiwasa Castle from the pagoda. The next temple, Temple 24 Hotsumisakiji (最御崎寺), is about 77 kilometers (48 miles) away, which takes 2-5 days on foot to reach.
Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha, is the deity of Yakuoji. The temple is known for aiding its worshippers in getting rid of sickness, hardships, and bad karma. After crossing the “Yaku Yokebashi” bridge, there are 33 stone steps leading to the main hall for women, called “Onnazaka”. The 42 steep stone steps following are called “Otokozaka”, which are for men. The last 61 steps leading to the main hall are called the “60th Birthday Misfortune” for men and women. The words “Yakushi Hongan”, meaning “vow of Yakushi Nyorai” are written underneath each of these steps. It is believed that walking these steps and dropping coins along the way will cleanse people of their bad luck.
A single tower stands out in the middle of Yakuoji. It is a uniquely shaped pagoda built with a narrow cylindrical structure in the middle. The five pillars standing on the roof represent harmony between heaven and earth.
Yakuoji offers Shingon meditation classes and calligraphy classes where students copy Buddhist sutras. They also offer meals that are completely vegetarian using fresh local produce. Lastly, they have a nice hot spring open to the public that is very popular with pilgrims and locals in the area.
遍路小屋 第52号 日和佐海賊舟
壱 THE HOSTEL
Guest House さくら庵