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Byodoji Temple

Mystical healing waters are the main draw at this ancient Shikoku temple, an important waystation for travelers tackling the island’s huge pilgrimage trail.

Built some time between 810 and 824 AD, this temple is the 22nd stop on the Shikoku pilgrimage route which circles the island. When you visit, you might see some blessed campers with their tents set up on the grounds, stretching their legs out after completing the first quarter of their mammoth journey.

The temple is said to have been established by the famous Buddhist teacher, scholar, and public figure Kobo Daishi; one of the biggest names in Buddhism during its earlier days in Japan. Legend has it that the main statue of the temple was carved by him, representing the Buddha of medicine.

Medicine and healing are the biggest draws of this small temple, as the on-site well is said to have mystical curative properties. Whether you believe in such things or not, it can’t hurt to take a drink; bottles of the milky-white spring water are available from the temple shop and are said to help with your leg joints, eye health, and general good luck.

Aside from the mystical healing well, the temple also has a lovely purification area that’s decorated with seasonal flowers, and a set of stone stairs onto which you can throw coins to purge your bad luck. Whether you’re praying for a miracle or just want to see some ancient Japanese culture in practice, a visit to Byodoji Temple makes for a nice afternoon out in Tokushima Prefecture.

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