Temple 23: Yakuō-ji

Top choice Buddhist Temple

in Hiwasa

The major attraction of Hiwasa, Yakuō-ji, Temple 23, is the last temple in Tokushima Prefecture. Yakuō-ji dates back to the year 726, and is famous as a yakuyoke-no-tera (a temple with special powers to ward off ill fortune during unlucky years). The unluckiest age for men is 42; for women, 33 is the one to watch out for. Kōbō Daishi is said to have visited in 815, the year of his own 42nd birthday.

The long set of stone steps leading up to the main temple building comes in two stages: 33 steps for the women, followed by another 42 for the men. The tradition is for pilgrims to put a coin on each step – when it's busy, you may find the steps practically overflowing with one-yen coins.