peace is every step

88 Temple Pilgrimage, Shikoku / Japan

Walking the 88 Temple pilgrimage


I do not remember when I first heard about the 88 Temple pilgrimage in Japan. For years, I harbored the thought of walking it myself as a very secret wish, secret even to myself. After a long incubation period, the dream finally becomes reality. At the end of February, beginning of March, I will start the over 800 mile long journey from temple to temple as an “ohenro”, as a pilgrim following the footsteps of Kukai, one of the most well known historic figures in Japan.

Continue reading

Shikoku/ Koyasan

I have brought

The melancholy of my heart

Up the hill

To the wild roses in flower


The great Stupa Kondon Daito ( red building) designed by Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai) 1200 years ago on mount Koya

Shikoku, day one

Take my hand

We will walk 

We will only walk

We will enjoy our walk

Without thinking of arriving  anywhere. 

Walk peacefully,

Walk happily, 

Our walk is a peace  walk

Our walk is a happiness walk.

                                     Thich Nhat Hanh
In front of Ryozenji (Temple. 1) in the new pilgrim’s outfit with Shigeo

Shikoku,Day 2

Winter bareness –

Little birds seeking food

In the patch of green onion.


  Statue of Jizu Bosatsu, protector of wanderer and children in Jizoji, temple number 5.

Shikoku, Day 3                       Winter Calligraphy

Snow snapping off twigs,

I hear it in the darkness

Of the night.


Shikoku, Day 4

Ein frostiger Abend

Die Hand im Wasser des Teiches

Ein Herz auf Reisen.

                              Mitsu Suzuki
 Yubie no kosui wo sukuu tabigokor
Cold winter evening, 

The hand in the water of the pond

A heart travelling.

( own translation)
Dainichiji, Temple 13

Shikoku, Day 5

The joy of

Meeting you

In this way –

I wonder if it is a dream

I have not awoken from


Kokubunji (temple 15) with bell tower and to the left an ancient foundation stone of a pagoda.

Shikoku, Day 6

Today, I too

Will join the blossom watchers

On a spring mountain

Celebration of “girl’s day”, March 4.

In front of every house in a village near Katsuura Town, little dolls are exibited, sitting in blooming branches, bamboo or  on tables. Origami creations hanging in between. A magnificent site ( before temple 20)

Shikoku, Day 7

With the soundlessnes

Of winter rain

On mosses

Vanished days

Are remembered.



 Pathway up to Kakurinji, the crane temple (temple 20) lined with ancient cedar trees and moss covered roots.

Shikoku, Day 8

Only birds

Sing the music of heaven

In this world

  Early morning from my window of the lodge Yuki-so at the Pacific Ocean Tosa Bay

Shikoku, Day 9

Lost at the mountain

Of Hiwasawa Castle

Camelias in bloom

Cover the path.

                  ( own words)
Pathway on Hiwasama castle


Senba Kaigai Cliff after Yakuoji (temple 23)

Shikoku,Day 10

Inviting the wind to carry

Salt waves of the sea

The pine tree of Shiogashi

Trickles all night long

Shiny drops of moonlight.


 Akou (( Ficus suberba) on Cape Mureto near Hotsumisakiji ( temple 24)

Shikoku, Day 11

The voice of Buddha

Is heard –

Yet day in and day out

Winds roar and waves surge

                                Kukai ( ku= sky, kai= sea)
Kukai wrote this poem 1 200 years ago when he was at Cape Mureto where he was enlightened.  
 Fish market of Muroto after visiting Shinshoji ( temple 25). 

Shikoku, Day 12

What legacy shall I

Leave behind?

Flowers in spring

Cuckoos in summer

Maple leaves in winter.


Walking along the national road 55 following the coastline, many houses and industrial places are abandoned and deteriorating. Only old people live there anymore.

Shikoku, Day 13

No one home

Fallen pine needles

Scattered at the door.


Many hours I walked today along Tosa Bay/ Pacific Ocean toward Dainichiji (temple 27) I will reach it tomorrow. 

Shikoku, Day 14


I will jump

Onto  a  lotus leaf,

Let people call me

A frog!

  After visiting a temple and doing certain rituals ( like burning incense and putting a name slip into a box) one gets 3 stamps and the name of the temple written in the pilgrim’s book. This is the name Zenrakuji, temple 30, in the town of Kochi.

Shikoku, Day 15

It looks as if

Iris flowers had bloomed

On my feet

Sandals laced in blue.

Kuniko-san and I in front of the Sunday market in Kochi city. She explained to me in broken English the vegetables I did not know.

Bamboo sold to a customer

Shikoku, Day 16

  1. In the mountain shade

Water in the moss

Drips between the rocks

I feel a glimmer of clarity.


This water fall was beside a Shinto shrine on my way to Tanemaji ( temple 34). It was rainy all morning and water was everywhere.








Shikoku, Day 18

If I say it

It’s easy

Yet my diarrhea stomach

Is indeed

Hard to bear.

Dinner at Iwamotoji, temple 37.  Before dinner, pilgrims take a hot bath and wear the Yukata (bathrobe) at the dinner table. Very comfortable!

Shikoku,Day 19

If someone asks

About the mind of this monk, 

Say it is no more than

A passage of wind

In the vast sky. 

Kongofukuji( temple 38) at Cape Ashizuri with the Main Hall to the left. Powerful rocks and petryfied wood are surrounding the pond in the center of the temple ground.

Shikoku, Day 20


I sneak into your garden

To eat aronia berries

(Please keep yourself hidden

Until I go away)

Mosaic in a pedestrian tunnel along the coast after Kanjizaiji (temple 40) There are many tunnels along the path, usually shared with cars. This one was the first for pedestrians and bikers only. As it was a rainy day, it was good to be dry for a short time.

  1. Normally, the tunnels are dark and only a narrow line is left for pedestrians. This on was different.

Shikoku, Day 21

The path is you

That is why it will never tire of waiting.

Wether it is covered with red dust,

Autumn leaves

Or icy snow,

Come back to the path.

You will be like the tree of life.

Your leaves, trunk, branches

And the blossoms of your soul

Will be fresh and beautyful

Once you entered the practice of

Earth Touching. 

               Thich Nhat Hanh
WTypical japanese house with a vending machine under the porch. One can even buy hot drinks like coffee and hot Tea in this machines. Vending machines are everywhere, no need to take water along the path.

Shikoku, Day 22

Breathing out clouds

Breathing in cherry blossoms

Mt. Yoshino

(This haiku was sent to me by a friend just now, it fits perfectly to my day)


 A- gyo, one of the two guardien deities who protect the temple from evil. He has his mouth open.
 Un- gyo, also protector, contains his wrath. In front of every temple, these two statues, called Niou-zo, are standing left and right in the entrance gate.  I took this photos today at Butsumokuji, temple 42.

Shikoku, Day 23

With blossoms fallen

In spaces between the twigs a temple

Has appeared.


An old lady wearing the traditional hat admiring her old cherry tree blossoming. I had a nice chat with her, although we could not understand each other on one level. But we knew that it was about the beauty of the blossoms. On my way spring is everywhere- violets, daffodils,dandelion, tulips, camelias, magnolias, and many more seem to bloom all at once.

Shikoku, Day 24

Ah, it is spring

Great spring it is now

Great, great spring –

Ah, great-

Walking beside the Odo river, a house with a blooming Magnolia tree.

Shikoku, Day25

I picked my way

Through a mountain road

And I was greeted

By a smiling violet.

On my way to Kuma-kogen town, I walked over two passes through the most gorgeous mountain areas and saw many dilapitated houses with everything still in. These long forgotten and abandoned houses had their own charme.

Shikoku, Day26

We meet and we part ,

Coming and going – hearts like passimg clouds.

Except for the marks of a frosty – hair brush,

Human traces are hard to find.


 Exchanging cards with a Shingon priest from Mt. Koya at Daihoji, temple 44

Shikoku, Day 27

How could we discuss this and that

Without knowing that the world

Is reflected in a single perl.



 Two pilgrims and I in  front of a 1000 year old Juniper tree in Juroriji, temple 46. Hundreds of years old cedar trees grow often in the mountain temples. I love those ancient trees.

Shikoku, Day 28

At midnight

Under the bright moon

A secret worm

Digs into a chestnut.

Large cave system with childlike statues of Jizos behind the main buildings of Ishiteji (temple 51)in Matsuyama. So far, this temple was the most mysteious temple I saw. 
The stones in front of the shrine had all names on it, it was a shrine for the wish of a baby. I guess, when the wish was fulfilled, a stone was donated.

Shikoku Day 29

There are sounds of flutes and drums

But in this deep mountain

Only a pine rustles.

A wedding in a Shinto shrine in Matsuyama city. Weddings are often connected with the Shinto tradition, whereas funerals are done by Buddhist monks.

Traditional way of bride and groom of leaving the shrine.

Shikoku, Day 30

Cooleness –

Separating from the bell,

A bell’s voice.


Ohenro  wearing the typical outfit of a pilgrim- the sugegasa (sedged hat), hakui (white vest), zudabukuro ( white bag), wagesa (stola around the neck) and the kongozue ( staff). Today, at Nankobo (temple 55) a pilgrim must have taken accidently my staff. As it is believed that with the staff Kobo Daishi ( Kukai ) is walking with the pilgrim, actually, it was never my kogozue anyway😊. So from now,on I walk with somebody elses staff.

Shikoku, Day 31

Arriving here at this village

Peach blossoms

In full bloom.

Red petals reflect

On the river.


Spring flower arrangement in the Mikada Onsen Hotel were I stayed overnight. Japan has many Onsen (hot springs). After a long hiking day, these onsen ( if not onsen, then a hot bath) are increadible relaxing………..

Shikoku, Day 32

Water of spring

Violet and white flowered reeds

Moistened as it flows.


Sacred waterfall were Buddhist ascetics once cleaned themselfs (after the mountain temple Yokomineji, Temple 60).

Shikoku, Day 33

Campher tree roots

Silently becoming wet

On a winter shower.

Campher tree root in a Shinto shrine after Maegamiji, temple 64.

Trunk of the hundreds of years old Campher tree



Shikoku, Day 34

Der Wasservögel

Gehen und Kommen

Hinterlässt keine Spur

Jedoch ihren Weg

Vergessen sie nie.

                      Dogen (1200 – 1253)

( own translation:  the coming and going of the waterbirds is without trace, yet they know theor way)

The way up to the Soto Zen monastery Zuiojo in early morning. I will stay there for one week and am allowed to practice with the monks. As the schedule is very tight, ( getting uo at 3:50 am) I will do my best to keep up with the blog.

Shikoku, Day 35

It is the sameness for the sea

Not to refrain from accepting water

And for this reason

Water smoothly gathers together

To make the sea.

The Dharma hall or hatto of the Zen monastery Zuioji where the sutras are chanted.

Beside meditation and chanting sutras, daily work periods are major parts of the daily life in a Zen monastery. Here, we collected blossoms and leafs from a magnolia tree in front of the hatto.

Shikoku, Day 36

Falling blossoms

Blossoms in bloom

Are also

Falling blossoms.



Cherry blossom trees in full bloom at the pond called dragon lake in Zuioji.


Afternoon yard work at the dragon lake . Home of turtels and frogs. 

Shikoku, Day 37

Into water

Blossoms vanish

Plum tree on the shore.

Every morning, the tea ceremony and the book reading session takes place in this room. The calligraphy on the scroll is: Tenjo Tenge YuiGa Doku Son, which means ( as far as I understood the translation) “sky up and down, your life is special” or “you have to respect your own life.”

Shikoku, Day 38

Crescent moon

Bent to the shape

Of the cold.


This is part of the sodo or meditation hall where I am sitting with another monk to assist me. All the other monks meditate and sleep in the inner room. The big fish hanging from the ceiling is called gyoku and is hit before an eating time. Breakfast is eaten on the meditation platform in oryoki style, a set of rules how and when to eat.



Shikoku, Day 39

The winter river;

Down it come floating

Flowers offered to Buddha.

On April 8, Buddha’s birthday will  be celebrated. A lot of preparation is taking place already – like retrieving the white elephant from a side temple and decorating a mini temple with flowers.


Shikoku, Day 40

Springtime rain!

Almost dark, and yet

Today still lingers

In the back of the temple grounds near the cemetary, there grows a 1000 year old Ginko tree. It is raining now  for several days already, I am glad that I can be inside.



Shikoku, Day 41

Alles rauscht Sarari, Sarari dahin

Wie des Wassers rauschende Wellen.

Ohne Verhaften

Leb ich dahin.

So wird auch 

Ein Weg

Sich mir öffnen von selbst

Ein Licht erstrahlen aus sich


Von Buddhas innerster Lehre berührt

Will durchwandern ich diese Welt.

                     Shimmin Sakamuri

(Ceaselessly, Sarari, Sarari, everything flows;  without attachment, I live my life. Just by itself, a way will open for me, a light will shine from itself. Ah! Touched by Buddhas innermost teaching, I will wander the world). 

Own translation- sorry about grammar mistakes.

A warm farewell from Tsugen Roshi, the 90 year old abbot of Zuioji, with the white elephant in the background.

Shikoku, Day 42

It is spring, 

Even nameless hills

Are decorated

With thin films of morning mist.

Saying good by to Daikai (great ocean), my teacher, advisor, interpretor and friend at Zuioji. 

Shikoku, Day 43

Not yet disappeared

Like a dew drop

On a blade of grass,

I am still in this floating world

Moon in the morning.

Old woman working in her field high up in the mountains near Sankakuji, temple 65.

Shikoku, Day 44

In a qiet forest, sitting alone,

In a grass hut at dawn,

“Bup, po,so” I thought

I heard a bird cry.

Was it a bird’s cry?

I heard it in my mind

The sound,stream, clouds, and mind

Diffuse brightly in the morning rays.


One of hundreds of concrete statues lined up at Upenji (temple 66) showing all kinds of  facial expressions and emotions, most of them with an animal. A pilgrim told me that they were special monks with a high state of awareness. It was freezing cold up there on 900 m.

Shikoku, Day 45

On a hanging bell

Staying while he sleeps, 

A butterfly!


Bell towers are an important part of a temple. After cleansing hands and mouth at the temple entrance, the pilgrim announces the arrival by ringing the bell. Hitting the huge bell with the wooden beam and listen to the deep belly sound slowly disappearing  is one of my favorite things in a temple. 

The photo of the bell tower I took at the Ni-ike pond before Jinnein, temple 68.There are many other temples and shrines despite the 88 temples along the way.

ShokokuDay 46

It was with awe

That I beheld

Fresh leaves, green leaves

Bright in the sun.


Pond before Mandaraji, temple 72. Today, I passed many ponds with turtles in in the water resting in the sun. Fruit trees like Kiwi and the Biwa fruit trees were growing along the path. The distant mountains were covered with fresh shades of green.

Shikoku, Day 47

On a hilltop

The firm-standing castle

And fresh new leaves!

Marugame castle on Kameyama (turtle mountain) in Marugame City is very close to the hotel I am staying today. The “Tenshu” on the top of the mountain is not a house for living in but a defense tower. The 3 level wooden tower is connected by increadible steep stairs – hard to climb for armored samurais.

Shikoku, Day 48

On a pitch dark

night road

I get lost

watching the moon

set behind a faraway mountain.


In Kokubunji, tempel 80, the original Shinto religion is living side by side with Buddhist religion. I was intriguid by the beauty and serenity of this gilded sculpure of a couple in front of a Shinto shrine, both independent and yet connected by the golden cord. In the background you can see a Buddhist stupa.

Shokoku, Day 49

In an old templ

Deep in Mount Koya,

Kii  Province,

I listed to the raindrops

Falling from a cedar trees


  • A tori (lantern)with the Daishi hall in the background on the mountain temple Shiromineji, temple 81. Every  Shingon temple has 2 major buildings, the main hall and the Daisihi hall. Huge cedar trees were surrounding the temple .

Shikoku,Day 50

I’am going to roll over

So please move.



Huge piece of art at the harbour of Takamatsu. Unfortunatly, the information was only written in Japanese. 

Shikoku, Day 51

As long as I don’t aim

I want miss.

With the catalpa bow,

I shoot an arrow

Toward the open sky.


 Today I visited the islands Naoshima and Teshima with amazing architecture and art. The white building is the Teshima art museum where only the big space is present – just white curved concrete walls and two huge round openings to the sky. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed. The little building to the left is the cafe. I took a picture there.


Cafe and shop of the Teshima Art museum built by the architect Kazuyo Sejima.

Shikoku,Day 52

Still alive I am

At the end of a long dream

On my journey,

Fall of an autumn day. 

                          Matsuo Basho
In no other country than in Japan I felt the beauty of impermanence as strongly – Everything changes constantly.   This is one of many abandoned houses in Shikoku in Sanuki City near Shidoji, temple 86.

Shikoku,Day 53

 Foot and earth touch

Bright sunflowers fill our eyes

In the distance, thunder roars.

Sweat trickles down our cheeks,

Fully entering the world of birth and 


Our tears nourish all beings.

Transcending the world of birth and 


Empty footprints going nowhere.

                     Thich Nhat Hanh

Arriving at Okuboji, temple 88. The path to it required some rock climbing and a steep descend but was increadible beautiful.

Path down in the direction of Ryozenji, temple 1, where I started my journey.

Shikoku,Day 54

In the evening of a thousand peaks, I close my eyes.

Among humans, myriad of thoughts are trivial.

Serenely, I sit on my mat.

In solitude, I face an open window.

The incense has burnt out and a dark night is long.

Dew is thick; my robe is thin.

Emerging from Samadhi, I walk in the garden.

The moon has risen over the highest peak.

Blooming wisteria, azalea and dogwood tree ( white blossoms) beside a water fountain in a small temple on my way back to Ryozenji, temple 1.  With that, I closed the circle, a circle which has no beginning nor end.

I want to thank you all for walking with me on this pilgrimage. It was a truly amazing experience. The kindness, generosity and warmhearteness of the Japanese people I met on the way was increadible. The beauty of the nature was often beyond words. I hope the photos could convey a little bit what I felt. In deep gratitude for the way, Traude.

Three days in Koyasan/Japan

In an old temple

Deep in Mount Koya

Kii province

I listen to rain drops

Falling from a cedar tree.



This is the walkway to the mausoleum of Kukai. It is said that he is not dead but in eternal meditation. The walkway to the mausoleum is lined with many centuries old cedar trees. 200 000 people are buried in this sacred place.


Nara, 2 days

Exhausted, I sought

A country inn, but found

Wisteria in bloom.


In the Botanical garden of the Kasuga Shrine in Nara ( old Japanese capital) the visitors admire the abandunt blossoms of many kinds of wisteria.

A day in the area of Kyoto

Where the cuckoo’s voice

Glided into the sea

Shooting across the sky

I found an island.




In walking across a stretch of land called Amanohoshidate, I found this poem of Basho inscribed in a rock. It is one of my favorite haikus. The shape of the land is similar to the shape of a dragon.



Down below an eagle searching for food in Ine town


Three Day Hike in the Stubaier Alpen/Tirol/Austria

We started our hike in Neustift (990 m), a town near Innsbruck. We, that is my son Robert, my daughter Anna-Sophie and I. 


At noon, we stopped at the Elferhütte to eat Kasknödelsuppe and drink fresh milk mixed with strawberry sauce.

From the Elferhütte (2004 m), we hiked farther up to the Innsbruckerhütte, were we stayed overnight.  

Starting from the Innsbruckerhütte (2370m), we climbed the Habicht,  a mountain with the altitude of 3277m.  During the first hour of climbing, thick fog covered the area. It was good to see the red and white trail markers.


The Habicht is a mountain made out of pure granite. In German, it is called “Urgestein”, translated as primordial stone. We had to pass large snow fields and hold on to steel ropes in the exposed areas.

The view from the summit was fantastic. In the south, we could see the mountains of Italy( South-Tirol). 

Like on the way up, every step on rocks needed to be grounded and carefully done. However, it was fun to run down the snow fields. 

Robert had to leave for Innsbruck in the evening. Anna-Sophie and I stayed in the Innsbruckerhütte for one more night. The next day, we climbed up the Kalkwand (2564 m). The peak of this mountain consists of limestone and is rugged and dramatic.     
From the Kalkwand, we walked back to the Innsbruckerhütte to get our backpacks and hiked down into the Pinnistal. The last part took us up to the Elfer from where we took a gondola to Neustift.

In Innsbruck, we went for dinner at the restaurant “Mount Everest”. It was six years ago that we hiked together in the Himalayas, where we did the 3 weeks hike around the 8th highest mountain of the world, the Manaslu in Nepal.

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, a 9 day hike in one of the most beautiful parts of the Alps

Robert and I started the hike today on the Oberisshütte near Neustift/Tirol. The whole tour is 55km long, walking up 5712 m, walking down 5568m. Already at the beginning of our hike we enjoyed ripe rasberris, wild strawberries, blueberries and found a lot of chanterrelles peaking out of the mossy ground. We hiked up to the Starkenburgerhütte with roughly about 1000 m elevation change. Tomorrow, we will go to the Franz -Senn -Hütte. The weather forecast is bad- rain and sometimes thunderstorm “

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, day four

My shadow was long when I passed the edge of a gorgeous marsh on the way to the highest point of this tour (2881m). Yesterday, a rockslide destroyed the way up to the pass. A hastily marked new path was leading over boulders to a nearly vertical slope of ice and gravel. A rope was there  to pull oneself up over the dangerous area. It was difficult. However, the view to the surrounding glaciers was stunning.  There was a roar of crushing ice and falling rocks in the air. Mountain goats were gracing in the distance. It was a long and beautiful day. 

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, day three

It was a gorgeous day! The early morning sun reflected the uncountable dewdrops from grasses and moss. The path was leading over milky white water rushing down from the melting glaciers. On the steep slopes, the path was cut as a narrow band, hardly visible. Often it was leading over a  grey ocean of rocks and boulders where the eye had to search for the red and white stripes marking the way. Each step was important, needed to be grounded. I arrived at the Dresdner Hütte about 3 pm and jumped into the little lake near the cabin AAAHHH……cold and refreshing!

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, day five

This day was a long day, as I combined two stages into one. When I left the Dresdner Hütte at 6:30 am, heavy mist was hiding everything around, except the immidiate surrounding. The rain made the path slippery and treacherous. At the start of my walk, I stepped on a nearly polished rock and slipped,  Luckily, I did not injure myself. After that, I was extremely careful! Soon, the mist disappeared. The weather was so beautiful that I climed the nearly 3000 m high Grossen Trögler. Heavy wind made it difficult to balance. After having lunch at the  Sulzenauhütte, the path was leadig up to the turquois green Grünau See and into another High Valley. Rain and hail started when I climed over a moutain pass secured by iron ropes and iron stairs. After nine hours of walking,  I was happy to arrive safely at the Nürnberger Hütte.

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, day six

The weather forecast was bad- rain and snow over 2000m. However, in early morning the sky above was clear! Heavy clouds blanketed the vally down below.  Today, I walked the shortest section to the Bremerhütte.  Many iron ropes and iron clamps secured the way. A tiny stone house stood on the top of the pass- I was told that it was a former custom house, marking the border between Austria and Italy. When I arrived at the Bremer Hütte around noon, it started to rain. Tomorrow, the section will include a via ferrata ( secured climbing path) and is the longest distance so far. If the weather continous to be bad, I will have to descend into the valley and finish my hike.

Grosser Stubaier Höhenweg, day seven

There was a lot of  uncertainties at breakfast if to continue the hike to the Innsbrucker Hütte or descend into the valley. Only when the hut host went from table to table and strongly advised against hiking to the Innsbrucker Hütte, I decided to follow his recommendation. In the night, many mudslides around the area swept away part of the path and blocked roads down in the valley. In two days, more rain was falling than normally in the whole of August. Except of one adventurous Dutch man, everybody else  walked into the valley. Enormous amount of water rushed down from every direction.  One time, I did not ckeck a puddle on the path and sank in to my knee. As I did alteady the last part of the hike several weeks ago, it was not too hard to stop the tour. Still, I would have preferred to finish the circle. 

© 2018 Simply.Just.Walking

Site by SimplyWillUp ↑