Unpenji is Temple No. 66 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Although counted as being in Kagawa Prefecture, it’s actually just across the prefectural border in Tokushima. Located at an elevation of 911 metres, it is the highest temple on the pilgrimage and it’s one the nansho or ‘difficult places’ that test the will of pilgrims although the cable car that starts in Kagawa makes it much easier to get up to the top now. In the temple grounds are masses of stone rakan statues of followers of the Buddha. There are also other statues of Kannon and Fudo, which are both National Treasures. The temple was founded by Kukai in his youth and was dedicated by Emperor Kameyama who planted a gingko tree in the grounds. At one time in its heyday the temple had seven shrines, twelve affiliated halls, and eight branch temples.
- ©John Lander
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