Temple 15, Kokubunji

第15番札所 薬王山 金色院 國分寺
【History of the Temple】
The Shikoku Pilgrimage includes Kokubunji (provincial temples built by the order of Emperor Shomu) in all four prefectures of the island. The first is Awa Kokubunji. Emperor Shomu (reigned 724-749), who was deeply devoted to Buddhism, ordered the construction of 68 Kokubunji and Kokubun nunneries throughout the country in 741 to pray for national peace, good harvests, political and religious unity, and the improvement of local culture. Todaiji in Nara was the head Kokubunji. According to legend, Emperor Shomu dedicated a statue of Shaka Nyorai (the Historical Buddha) and a copy of the Mahannya Sutra to Awa Kokubunji, and enshrined the mortuary tablet of Empress Komyo in the Hondo.

The temple was founded by Gyoki. Gyoki himself carved a statue of Yakushi Nyorai (Medicine Buddha) as the principal image. When the temple was first built, it belonged to the same school of Buddhism as Horyuji, Yakushiji, and Kofukuji in Nara. It had a vast temple area with seven major buildings including a Kondo (Golden Hall) and a seven-storied pagoda. The foundation stones of the pagoda and other structures have been excavated in the temple area, which is a Prefectural Historical Site.

During the Konin period (810-824), when Kobo Daishi came to Shikoku to establish the Shikoku Pilgrimage, the temple’s sect was changed to the Shingon sect. The temple was later burnt down during an invasion in the Tensho Momoyama period (1573-1592). A decline in prosperity of the temple is documented in the Shikoku Henro Reijoki (Jakubon, 1689). The temple was rebuilt in 1741 by Hayami Kakugoro, a county magistrate of Awa (Tokushima), and has since become a modern Zen temple of the Soto Zen sect. The ruins on the temple grounds remind us of the glory of the past.

Designated by the national government as a Place of Scenic Beauty (2000). It consists of a dry pond garden on the east side of the Hondo and an artificial hill garden with stone arrangements on all four sides. It was extensively renovated in the late Edo period (1603-1868) and is one of the best gardens in Japan with its dynamic masonry formations. The entrance fee is 300 yen.
The Hondo is a two-story building with a gabled roof. It was rebuilt in the Bunka-Bunsei period (1804-1830). Memorial tablets of Emperor Shomu and Empress Komyo are enshrined here.
Address 〒779-3126 徳島県徳島市国府町矢野718-1
Telephone Number 088-642-0525
DirectionsFrom the Aizumi Interchange, take Prefectural Route 1 toward Tokushima City. When it merges with Route 192, follow the sign as you drive toward Ishii Town, then take Prefectural Route 123.
Parking10 cars and 1 microbus (special exception), no entry and no parking for large vehicles -- 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
free of charge