Category: News

The osettai culture of Shikoku’s pilgrimage route appeals to travelers from across the world

Calling these pilgrims “o-henro-san,” or those who walk the path, the locals support their safe journeys by offering meals and places to rest. The custom, called “osettai,” is rooted deeply in their daily lives. In recent years, it is impressing visitors from overseas.

This summer, Olivia Kivel from the United States began volunteering at a local inn near Ryozenji Temple in Naruto City, Tokushima Prefecture. The inn is one of several so-called “henro-yado.” Kivel went there in hopes of learning about the osettai culture.

Read more (via NHK World)

Yamabushi: Japan’s ancient tradition of mountain ascetics

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)

Gran Canaria’s mini Camino de Santiago

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.

Read more (via The Sunday Times)

Stairway to heaven: hiking ancient pilgrimage trails in southern Japan

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.

Read more (via The Guardian)

Trekking to discover sacred Japan

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.

Read more (via The Straits Times)

Japan hopes to follow Camino de Santiago’s path to marketing success

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)

Shikoku’s ‘path less traveled’ is busier than ever

A pilgrimage route stretching across Shikoku, one of Japan’s four main islands, has recently been attracting more non-Japanese visitors with various cultural and religious backgrounds.

Some of these pilgrims view the walk as a spiritual journey, while others want to make the pilgrimage for its health benefits or to be closer to nature.

Read more (via The Japan Times)

A journey along Japan’s oldest pilgrimage route

Sayuru Kunihashi had paid the bill for a night on a tatami straw mat, eaten a breakfast of fish and rice and absorbed the directions for the day ahead. Her watch said 7.20am and she was dressed to depart. A sedge hat for the strong sun, a wooden staff for the rough terrain and a white funeral robe. The latter was an emblem of her journey — a trek into the realm of death. She had already walked 584 miles along Japan’s oldest pilgrimage route, the Shikoku henro, and that day she would make the treacherous ascent of Mount Unpenji, a peak named after the place at its summit, the Temple in the Clouds.

Read more (via the Financial Times)