Pilgrimage around Shikoku

Centuries ago, people have started pilgrimage around Shikoku. It was, they say, after a great teacher in Bhuddism named Kukai who had lived in ascetic discipline in Shikoku district in the 8th century. Pilgrims go around Shikoku worshipping 88 of the temples scattered all over.
In the beginning of its history, they say, pilgrims were those who could not live in the homeland due to various reasons, mostly ominous or criminal, or those with serious illnesses. They prayed for their relieves through the pilgrimage. Or they could not live in the other ways than this pilgrimage. Having been supported by people along the roads of pilgrimage, they have walked all the way on their feet. Doing charity for those pilgrims with giving foods, water or even accommodations has been believed  to mean doing something good in Bhuddism. 
At present, a number of people, young or old, are still going for this journey. They say most of the modern pilgrims want to know who they themselves are or would regain the power to live after having got tired from their own lives. A part of them still walk all the way on their feet as in old ages. It takes them longer than 2 months to walk through the entire pilgrimage for nearly 700 or 800 miles.
People along the roads are told to be still very helpful to those pilgrims.
The pilgrims wear white cloth with a wooden stick on a hand and a straw made hat on head. It was until I had heard about it from a taxi driver in Takamatsu city, one of the largest cities in Shikoku a few years ago, when I knew their dress meant they could die anywhere on the way of pilgrimage. I was almost shocked to hear that there had actually been many pilgrims lost theri lives on the way. The white cloth was for the funeral for themselves. It was not for fun but for a real discipline to look for the reality in life.
Recently, I have read a book about this pilgrimage written by a retired journalist. He used to walk all the way in his forties one time. It was for writing an article as a journalist. He said he wanted to walk for pilgrimage itself apart from his profession. He made it true at the age of 70 after retirement. He has described how it moved him through walking in the nature and meeting people on the way. It's a pity, as he said, some roads have been paved and have had much traffic with cars. It has ruined some parts of the pilgrimage. But, in the other portions, the great nature was still preserved and has reminded him of the ancient pilgrims who had walked the same way. He has also described a lot of impressive chance meeting with many people, Bhuddism priests, pilgrims and people doing charity for him. 
Giving every routine in my life aside, I would like to go for this journey by myself in the future, not far from now. It might be a good chance to reflect myself and to consider how to live the time left in my life.
This photo was taken on a beach in Shikoku, near to my wife's homeland, in this winter. There was a temple for this pilgrimage close to this place.  


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this spiritual journey, Shin-san. I really like this one part of your blog:

    I would like to go for this journey by myself in the future, not far from now. It might be a good chance to reflect myself and to consider how to live the time left in my life.

    Thanks, Jim N3BB

    1. Jim,

      Thanks for your comment. Maybe, I should have written about this journey after I went for that. But, so far, I don't know when I could make it come true. I might not be able to go or might go there next year. I would yearn for this pilgrimage any time.

      Wishing Diana steady and complete recovery. I always remember of her.


  2. Interesting post, thank you. There is a write up on Wikipedia that has a picture of a pilgrim with the white shirt and traditional hat and photos of all 88 temples.

    1. Terry,

      I should have read the Wkipedia before writing this down. Anyway, I am pleased that you knew what a style a pilgrim takes for the journey. I was really shocked to know it was a preparation for his/her death on the way. It is not for fun but is related with the deepest aspect in our lives, I learned.

      I would go there in the future. I am too shy to dress as the ordinary pilgrim does. I would go as only a pedestrian traveller.


  3. Shin,
    I like the idea of the pilgrimage walk. You can go at any time. I think the best way to do this would be with little "bites," say a kilometer at a time. Just start and do as much as you feel like.
    By the way, can you suggest a classical music piece that would be spiritual in nature. Would this come from Bach? I am looking for some classical pieces with a spiritual aspect that I can listen to while mowing my large lawn on a tractor.

    Dennis W0JX

  4. Dennis,

    Walking every kilometer one time is not practical. Too short! Some people are, however, dividing the whole journey to several portions. Theyb walk each portion in an occasion. IIt takes me almost half a day to go to Shikoku door to door. I have the duty of chef! as well. My wife is not eager to go together with me. But this disciplinary walk should be done by myself, exactly speaking, with the teacher Kukai in mind.
    Considering those factors, I should fix a trip sked for myself.

    It is difficult to imagine what you mean by "spiritual" . Bach is still highly spiritual. Some time ago, if I have a chance to go for this pilgrimage, I thought I would bring Unaccompanied Violin Partita No2 in d minor by Bach. It is mostly composed of various dance musics in those days. You might be surprised to listen to what a rich and profound world Bach has composed for a violin solo. You might already know of this piece. Especially, the last music, Chaconne, is very famous for not only violin music but also for whole classical music. It expresses from the enormous universe to delicate emotion in our mind at the same time.

    The only problem with Bach's music is that it would attract us so much that we could not do with other things than listening to it.

    I recommend Hilary Hahn as the player, a real great Bach player nowadays. I would quote her performance here from Youtube to this blog later.


  5. Shin,
    My mind tends to wander while mowing our 2 acres of grass. By spiritual, I mean pertaining to the soul and one's relationship with a higher power or Creator. The right music would help focus my thoughts in that direction and reduce distraction. If the music becomes the central focus that is ok if it resonates with a person's spiritual center. Thank you for the recommendation.

    Dennis W0JX