In spring 2018, David Gogh walked the entirety of the Shikoku Pilgrimage and has compiled a beautiful video of photos and short clips synchronised with a map showing his progress around the island.
Dewa Sanzan, in Yamagata Prefecture, has been an important center for yamabushi since the beginnings of Shugendo in the eighth or ninth century, although it didn’t grow in popularity as a pilgrimage route for spiritual rebirth until the Edo Period (1603-1868). To this day, each yamabushi in good health is required to make the journey.
Read more (via The Japan Times)
I am sitting on the rim of a volcano crater, munching my midday sandwich while watching a friar and a frog. El Fraile and La Rana are sculptures fashioned by nature from solidifying magma 3,000 years ago. That might sound like an aeon, but in geological time is only about yesterday afternoon. I have reached my picnic spot by crunching over naked grey lava, feeling like an ant on an elephant’s back.
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Normally I am not given to praying but the occasion demands it. After bowing twice and clapping twice, I make a silent entreaty that my trek will go well. My obeisance is taking place in front of a small wooden building, rather like a summerhouse. It is a shrine in the town of Takijiri-oji, a starting point for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails.
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Whipped by the incessant rain, I am drenched and cold when I finally arrive at the hillside Negoro-ji Temple, exhausted.
The hike up the wet and slippery path has been hard as parts of the trail have been flooded by the heavy rain.
Near the entrance to the temple, an old man waves, beckoning me into a hall, which also serves as a kitchen.
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“What do you think of the influx of foreign visitors coming to Japan?” I was asked by a Japanese TV director. Apparently, one person she’d asked distinguished between two types of tourists: good ones and bad ones. “We’d like to encourage only the good ones to come,” this person had reportedly said.
Read more (via The Japan Times)
The weeks (and sometimes months) of our lives on Shikoku, left an indelible impression on us all. But the walk is a solitary endeavour. What did we learn collectively? And how can these learnings help future Henro, the residents of Shikoku, and Henro Alumni everywhere?
In June, we conducted a survey to learn more about people’s motives and experiences as henro.
Prior to embarking on the pilgrimage, I had a stressful job in Tokyo that I was no longer enjoying and causing a downward trend in my well-being.
I had first heard about the pilgrimage a couple of years prior but had filed it away in the back of my mind without serious consideration. Once I decided to extricate myself from the work situation, it didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to go for it.
Much of my work involved planning and designing things such that they can be built with minimal risk; basically the antithesis of everything a pilgrimage is supposed to be. To avoid taking the spontaneity and serendipity out of the journey, the only thing I planned was my first nights’ accommodation and no more. Read more
For centuries, religious pilgrims, and latterly thrill-seekers and those wanting to “find themselves”, have undertaken a month-long trek across northern Spain, along the Camino de Santiago.
Few, if any, of the 200,000 or so people who complete the walk each year will realise that it is now being used as a blueprint to market and promote others around the world. The latest is Japan, which is hoping to use the popularity of the Camino to sell its own pilgrimage, the Way of the 88 Temples, a 750-mile path through the island of Shikoku’s Buddhist past.
Read more (via The Independent)