Monday, July 5, 2010

Visiting a temple in Shikoku

Today we visited a temple in Shikoku. Veraj and I wanted to see how these temples are different from the ones we visited in Fukuoka. There are 88 different major temples on the island of Shikoku, we visited Zentsu-ji.

While visiting Zentsuji, the tour guide told us of a pilgrimage. People set out on a pilgrimage of all 88 temples in Shikoku. This pilgrimage has been around for about 1200 years! About 100,000 people make this pilgrimage yearly! Modern people usually set out by bus, however there are still few people that set out by feet. It must be hard for those who set out on feet, because the journey would take at least 6 weeks!

We also learned that traveling throughout the island of Shikoku can be extremely safe. There are people who help out pilgrims on their journey by giving small gifts, it is necessary for pilgrims to accept these gifts. These people recognize the pilgrims by their traditional henro robes. There are also small roadside inns that are meant to give shelter to pilgrims.

The pilgrimage should actually be called - the 88 temple pilgrimage plus one temple you visit again after you finish the actual pilgrimage - because when pilgrims finish the pilgrimage they actually return to the first temple. After you go back to the first temple you go to Mount Koya and give your thanks to Kobo Daishi.

During the visit Veraj and I learned a little bit about the temple. First of all, Zentsuji is the biggest temple in Shikoku, it has a total of 1,386 steps to the top. This temple was actually said to be the home of Kobo Daishi as he was growing up.

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