Pilgrimage (henro)

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Pilgrimage in Shikoku (henro)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Spring
***** Category: Observance


ZEN is well known in the West, but other forms of Japanese Buddhism are not.

To make the great pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku is not only reserved for believers of the Esoteric sects, but done by many people for many reasons, after retirement, after loosing a loved one or just for finding oneself as a youngster.

Many henro pilgrims carry a small haiku book and produce many beautiful haiku, some featured in the internet these days and some hidden in the pockets of the white robe, only shown to each other when meeting on the way.

The Shikoku Pilgrimage, henro 遍路, comprises many kigo for spring.
The cool climate of spring is the best time to walk the pilgims road in Shikoku.
But there are of course pilgrims all year round.

Pilgrm's Staff, the alter-ego of Kobo Daishi, henrotsue 遍路杖
Pilgrim's Hat, henrogasa, henro kasa, 遍路笠

the way a pilgrim walks, henromichi 遍路道

. Shikoku Henro 四国遍路 Pilgrimage to 88 Temples .
- Introduction -

. Stepping on the sacred sand of Shikoku
(sunafumi お砂踏み)


Pilgrimages since the Meiji Period (1868-1912 AD) have basically preserved the patterns that emerged during the Edo Era. Nonetheless, most will admit that modern-day Japanese pilgrimages are incredibly commercialized. Many Japanese localities and prefectures, hoping to attract religious tourists, have copied the traditional pilgrimage patterns to establish their own modern circuits for the 33 Kannon and 88 Holy Sites in Shikoku. Today pilgrims travel in luxury by coach, minibus or taxi in prearranged tours. Nearly all modern pilgrims purchase the amulets, hats, satchels, staffs, bells, and other religious paraphernalia that are sold in abundance by temples, shrines, prefectural bodies, cities, and travel agencies. In many ways the modern pilgrimage in Japan is a thinly veiled disguise for tourism, stripped in large part of religious meaning.

And let us not forget. Since the Edo Period, Shinto and Buddhist practices among the common folk have been aimed primarily at this-worldly benefits (genze riyaku, concrete rewards now). To many Japanese, Shinto and Buddhist faith is primarily involved with petitions and prayers for business profits, the safety of the household, success on school entrance exams, painless child birth, and other concrete rewards now, in this life. This type of popular worship -- one focused on "this-worldly" rewards -- can easily fall prey to commercialism.

Learn more about Pilgrims stamps books and all the equipment
a pilgrim needs on the road.


also about

junrei 巡礼 pilgrimage to other temples
junrei 順礼 kanji used by Issa


Pilgrims at temple Nr. 55, Nankoo-Boo in Imabari, Shikoku.

Life is a pilgrimage!
A poster to promote the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

© Photo Gabi Greve


giving alms to henro pilgrims,
o-settai, settai 摂待
. Kado-cha 門茶 "tea at the gate" .
giving tea as alms at the temple gate
kigo for early autumn

As the poor pilgrims walk along, they are supported by the local population, who see them as Kobo Daishi himself. They get a lot of food offerings, but also robes or money. Once I got a cotton towel to wipe the sweat. Even a ride in a car can be o-settai.
Some villages have established a small stall with tables and seats at the village entrance, where the housewifes take turn in praparing tea and sweets for the tired pilgrims.
Other households provide free beds for one night, together with a small meal in the monring, some for many generations. They have become friends with the regular pilgrims, who take the tour many times in their lives.

At one place in front of a temple, an old woman was handing out mikan oranges, greeting each pilgrim with a smile, saying "Welcome to this temple, dear Kobo Daishi san!". For her, we were all the same re-incarnations of Kukai.

O-Settai is a way for the local people to "collect good points" to improve their karma in the next re-incarnation.

If you receive a gift of this kind, you have to hand over one of your pilgrim's prayer slips.

settai in form of a shoulder massage

- the beginning of settai -
. Emon Saburō 衛門三郎 Emon Saburo .


Shikoku Fudo Pilgrims to 36 temples

My Pilgrims Guide
... group/Darumasan-Japan/message/424
... group/Darumasan-Japan/message/425

Learn more about Pilgrims stamps books and all the equipment a pilgrim needs on the road.

... www.onmarkproductions.com/
Mark Schumacher

A pilgrimage to a Shinto shrine is called: Mairi
 Three famous Shinto Pilgrimages

Worldwide use

WKD : Earth Pilgrims アースピルグリム 。 地球巡礼者 
Echan Deravy エハン・デラヴィ


fascinated by a distance
of spaces

- Shared by Gennady Nov -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013



Marija Bistrica: the Black Madonna with Child,
Our Lady of Bistrica, Queen of Croatia

The little town Marija Bistrica (literally Mary Bistrica) lies on the slopes of Mount Medvednica, about 15 km North-West of Zagreb. 16th century, about 5 ft., wood.
source : www.interfaithmary.ne

a pilgrimage -
new faces and new flowers
along the way

- Shared by Tomislav Maretic -
Haiku Culture Magazine , 2013



One of a Muslim's duties, as described in the Five Pillars of Islam, is to go on Hajj at least once during his or her lifetime. This is a pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca, Mekka) in Saudi Arabia. Approximately two million Muslims went in 1999, of which about one million were from Saudi Arabia, and 6,000 were from the U.S. Council on American-Islamic Relations estimated in 2006 that "some 10,000 American Muslims go on Hajj each year."
source :  www.religioustolerance.org

her pilgrimage bag -
for the eleventh night
a pink neglige

Heike Gewi Yemen, July 2008
Kigo Hotline


Joys of Japan, 2012

Mina and Arafah
pilgrimage exodus
heart and soul

- Shared by Mokhtar Sah Malik -

The towns of Mina and Arafah
source : www.hajtips.com/

haj -
with all my sins
I come to You

- Shared by Asni Amin -



kamakhya on nilachal~
pilgrims trekking together
to mother's womb

This was written during a visit to Kamakhya Temple near Guwahati in Assam (North East India) recently. It is on a mountain named Nilachal (meaning Blue Mountain). The deity ie. Goddess Kamakhya is worshipped here in the 'yoni' form. It is a great Shakti peeth and a seat of Tantric cult of Hinduism.

Sunil Uniyal, India, August 2008
Kigo Hotline

More Reference about the Temple
CLICK for more photos

Things found on the way


michinobe ni Awa no henro no haka aware

at the roadside
"The Grave of the Pilgrim from Awa" -
how touching

Takahama Kyoshi 高浜虚子
(written in 1935)

This grave is near Matsuyama at the temple hall Daishido 太子堂. On the memorial stone it says 阿波の遍路の墓 and Kyoshi only added the first and last part to this.
There are two stone steles to memorize this grave, slightly slanted, in the temple compound.


graves of the unknown -
pilgrims faces faded
into stone

Henro Pilgrims .. 遍路と無縁仏

Read some more of my Henro Haiku.
Shikoku Summer 2005

Gabi Greve


竹林 上り下りの 遍路道
takebayashi nobori kudari no henromichi

bamboo grove -
the pilgrim's path leads
up and down

Gabi Greve, Shiraishi Pilgrimage, June 2006


Early in his career, Santoka (1882-1940) was a henro.

autumn wind for all my walking . . . for all my walking . . .

"Where is the Way?" he was once asked.
"Under your feet," he replied.

Read a long article about pilgrims by Michael Hoffman .


atsusa ni mo makezu henro no michi nagaki

not even yielding
to the great heat ...
pilgrim on the road

Gabi Greve, July 2008, Fudo Pilgrimage Yamaguchi

Related words

Pilgrimage to Shinto Shrines
***** Pilgrimage to Kyoto (Kyoo mairi 京参り )
Ise Shrine Pilgrimage, O-Ise-Mairi, Ise Mairi 伊勢参り
O-kage mairi お陰参り (おかげまいり)
Konpira Shrine Pilgrimage, Konpira Mairi 琴平参り

***** Grave (haka)

***** SAIJIKI of Japanese Ceremonies and Festivals

***** Henro Pilgrims Culture and Haiku

***** . Gankake 願掛け wish-prayer, to make a wish .





Anonymous said...



Thank you for a comment.
It is glad if you can also introduce the thing of Shikoku and a pilgrimage widely.
Moreover, let's meet in Shikoku.

Anonymous said...

flowers breeze
on the pilgrim's path ~
musical air

Gabi Greve said...

The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage

The Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage covers 33 temples dedicated to Kannon in Western Japan and is the most famous of Japanese pilgrimages. Kannon (sometimes Kanzeon or Kwannon) is the Japanese name for the bodhisattva Avalokitasvara, or Bodhisattva of Compassion, one of whose 33 manifestations (the only female one) corresponds to the Chinese bodhisattva Kuan-yin, known in the West as the "Goddess of Mercy."

Kannon's ability to take 33 different forms is the reason why there are 33 temples on this 1500-mile pilgrimage that stretches from Lake Biwa to Kobe and touches Japan's east and west coasts.

The pilgrimage route dates from the 11th Century, but many of the temples were pilgrimages in their own right beforehand and some date back to the 7th Century.

It's a "miracle pilgrimage," and each temple is associated with a miracle related to Kannon. At Kannonsho-ji, for instance, the temple is said to have been founded at the request of a merman.

With a full listing of all the temples !


Anonymous said...

Pilgrims Haiku by Issa

Tr. David Lanoue

yuki-doke ya junrei shû mo asa no koe

melting snow--
the morning voices
of pilgrims


yukisaki mo tada aki kaze zo kojunrei

his destination
only the autumn wind...
little pilgrim


haru kaze ya ko yabu ko matsuri ko junrei

spring breeze--
a little thicket, little festival
little pilgrim


oya yobu ya tako age nagara ko junrei

calling his parents
while his kite rises!
little pilgrim


ko junrei morai nagara ya ikanobori

the little pilgrim
while receiving alms
flies a kite


chiru hana ni junreichô mo kaichô kana

into the scattering blooms
and Buddha



Gabi Greve said...

春風や 遍路飯くふ 仁王門
harukaze ya henro meshi kuu Niomon

spring breeze
pilgrims eating rice
Nio Gate

Masaoka Shiki,
tr. Ad G. Blankestijn

Haiku about the Nio Gate

Ella Wagemakers said...

Pilgrimages were/are? supposed to be occasions for travel and reflection. Sometimes, though, it's the travelling bit that gets more attention, be it Lourdes, Mecca, or Santiago de Compostela.

his wallet open
for a new pair of shoes
young pilgrim

Seriously, though, other memories come to mind as well.

under the eyes
of the Black Madonna
his first proposal

:>) Ella

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

awayuki ya no nara yabu nara doosha-dachi

a light snow
over fields, through woods...

Kobayashi Issa
(Tr. David Lanoue)
- - -

道者 doosha can be a Taoist or a Buddhist pilgrim

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

fuji saku ya junrei no koe tori no koe

wisteria in bloom--
voices of pilgrims
voices of birds

Tr. David Lanoue

junrei 順礼 - pilgrimage

Gabi Greve said...

Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage
Michael Pye

Marburg University (Emeritus) and Ōtani University

Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage explores the ritual practice of “circulatory pilgrimages” – the visiting of many temples in a numbered sequence. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims travel such temple routes, seeking peace of mind, health and wellbeing for themselves and others as the benefits of such meritorious endeavour. This form of pilgrimage appears to be unique to Japan. The practice began centuries ago and involved visiting 33 temples devoted to the Bodhisattva Kannon, spread widely over western Japan. Soon afterwards the equally famous pilgrimage to 88 temples on Japan’s fourth island of Shikoku came into prominence.

This is the first comprehensive study of all the major and many of the minor routes, The book also examines how the practice of circulatory pilgrimage developed among the shrines and temples for the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, and beyond them to the rather different world of Shintō. The varying significance of the different pilgrimages is also explored. In addition to all the information about the routes, the book includes numerous illustrations and examples of the short Buddhist texts chanted by the pilgrims on their rounds.
Table of contents

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Ehime 松山市 Matsuyama city 中野町 Nakano town

. bikuni densetsu 比丘尼 伝説 Legends about Buddhist nuns .
On the border of 東方 Higashigata and 恵原 Ebara the Buddhist pilgrim nun 妙円尼 Myoen-Ni had died. The villagers from Ebara had displaced her body to the side of Higashigata, where she was finally burried.
If there was densenbyoo 伝染病 an epidemic, the villagers from Ebara got ill, but the villagers from Higashigata did not. This was because the villagers from Higashigata had shown sympathy to the nun.

Myoen-Ni was the daughter of Lord 黒田職隆 Kuroda Mototaka. She was born in 1556.

Gabi Greve said...

Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage 西国三十三観音霊場