Pilgrimage hikes in Japan 日本の巡礼

The pilgrim's staff in the land of the rising sun

The pilgrimage has been a popular exercise in Japan for many centuries. Initially, to pay homage to the deities of Buddhism and Shintoism and great monks such as Kukai, the paths are now popular with those who want to rediscover Japan's mystical side.

This is the time when the mythical En no gyoja would have climbed Mount Fuji for the first time (663) and when Kukai (also called Kobo Daishi) ascended Mount Koya to establish the spiritual heart of the Shingon sect.

During the following centuries, the practice of pilgrimage became more democratic, often under the aegis of a great leader. This was the case for the Kumano pilgrimage popularized by the emperors Go-Shirakawa and Go-Toba or the Bando pilgrimage created at the initiative of Yoritomo no Yoshimoto. Nowadays, these spiritual paths are the joy of visitors eager to rediscover a little of ancient Japan

Monk Kobo Daishi

Monk Kobo Daishi (or Monk Kukai).


Forests on the paths of Kumano Kodo, Kii Peninsula

Forests on the paths of Kumano Kodo, Kii Peninsula


And to fully immerse yourself in the pilgrimage, it is possible to don the traditional attire of the pilgrims. This is especially the case for the pilgrimage of Shikoku, whose henro” (names given to pilgrims) are easily recognizable.

Dressed in a " hakui" (white jacket), a "wagesa" stole and wearing their "sugegase" (the conical hat), they walk stick in hand around the island. To get this equipment, you just have to go to the first temple of the circuit, the Ryozen-ji, where it is sold.

Pilgrims at the entrance of a temple

Pilgrims at the entrance to a temple.

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