Shikoku Pilgrimage, Temples 28 – 33

Walking with Kuniko-san 


In early morning, I arrived in Dainichiji (temple 28). When I was ringing the temple bell, I was the only pilgrim on the temple grounds. Soon bus pilgrims flooded the area.



Bell tower of Dainichiji



Bus pilgrims walking  up to the temple grounds




Walking the ohenro pilgrimage in Shikoku means to walk 70% of the time on asphalted roads. Very often an irrigation canal is built beside the streets.



Houses and fields exist side by side. Space is tight.



All along the Shikoku way, little rest houses are built for the pilgrims. Sometimes they even offer a place to sleep.



After every temple visit, an ohenro gets the pilgrim’s book stamped and signed. In the photo above you see  stamp and calligraphy of Zenrakuji (temple 30)



On my pilgrimage, occasionally I met women who did the pilgrimage alone.  One of them was Kuniko-san, a Japanese woman who could speak English well enough to communicate with me – which was great.  For several days, we booked the same place for overnight and walked some stretches of the way together.  Sometimes, she had to take a bus because of a foot problem.



Kuniko-san and I at the weekly Sunday market of Kōchi City.



The market woman shows a customer two sprigs of the shikimi (Elysium anisatum or Japanese star anis) used for Buddhist temples and graves. It is poisonous and therefore they think that the plant protects the grave from wild animals. Honoring the ancestors is very important in Japan.



Many people in Japan wear face masks when going out of their houses.



Just a little bit outside of Kōchi City stands the temple Chikurinji (temple 31) overlooking the Urado Bay.  The beauty was intriguing.  Even before entering the temple, moss covered grounds, trees and blooming camellias were creating a magical atmosphere.



In Japanese temples, many ishi-tōrōs (stone lanterns) can be seen.  Originally, they came from China with the import of Buddhism. There exist many forms of stone lanterns.



Before entering the temple grounds, it is important to do the cleansing ritual.  Most of the time, the water comes out of a dragon’s mouth. The white towels on the bamboo stick are for pilgrims to dry their hands.



In every temple of the Shingon Sect, a statue of Kōbō Daishi in meditation sits in the center of the Daishi Hall.  Often, a cord connects Kōbō Daishi with a pilgrim touching the cord from outside.



At the Chikurinji temple, the cord is connected with a golden Vajra, symbol of Enlightenment. Pilgrims touch the Vajra when asking for help.



A five story pagoda dominates the temple grounds, replacing a three story pagoda destroyed by a typhoon.



Hito-Koto Jizō or one -wish -granting Jizō. You can buy a little Jizō for 1000 Yen and wish for one thing.



Wishes on wooden plates written by believers surround Hito-Koto-Jizō




Not knowing Japanese nor being knowledgeable in Shingon Buddhism, the significance of the statues was often a mystery.  However, I think they are five Jizō-Bosatsus.

















Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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