Introducing Tokushima Prefecture
Home to the first 23 of the 88 temples, the prefecture of Tokushima is known to o-henrō as Hosshin-no-dōjō, the ‘place to determine to achieve enlightenment’. The first 10 temples are more or less on an east–west line spanning about 25km on the north side of the Yoshino-gawa river valley. In the days of old, they were considered a mini-pilgrimage, and remain a worthy alternative if you don’t intend to complete the full 88-temple circuit.
Noteworthy temples in Tokushima-ken include Temple 1, Ryōzen-ji, which is the pilgrimage’s traditional starting point on the island of Shikoku. The walk from temples 11 to 12, which winds through the mountains of the Yoshino-gawa valley, has the reputation of being the steepest and hardest climb on the pilgrimage. Temple 19, Tatsue-ji, is a barrier temple – only those who are ‘pure of intention’ can pass.
Other notable attractions include the lively Awa-odori festival (Awa Dance Festival) in Tokushima, the mighty channel whirlpools of the Naruto Channel (Naruto-kaikyō), the pristine scenery of the Iya Valley and the surf beaches of the southern coast.