Shikoku 88 Temples



It’s difficult to define where a circle starts and almost impossible to determine its end.


As I write the last entry about my experiences as a Henro on Skikoku’s 88 temples, I am reminded of the first time I heard about the pilgrimage. My friend Noriko and I had just finished lunch in Hiroshima and were looking out at the beautiful Seto Sea. Listening to her describe a centuries old pilgrimage encircling Japans fourth largest island, I thought to myself, “What type of person walks nonstop in a circle for  60 days?” Before I attempted to       Completion Certificate                           answer, I already knew, I was  that kind of person.


Almost 3 years from the date of that query, I stepped off a bus into an empty rest area in Tokushima, a 20 minute walk from Ryozenji or Temple 1. For the next 50 days I walked through lush mountains, congested cities, and sandy seashores. I dodged snakes, laughed with people, tested my directional abilities, learned why the employees at the store I bought my hiking boots praised Mole Skin, and best of all experienced existence on a simpler level.


The final prefecture of Shikoku’s 88 Temples Pilgrimage is Kagawa. This part of the journey is known as The Dōjō of Enlightenment. I agree. It is here that I visited one of my favorite temples: 66, Hovering Clouds Temple. Like most mountain temples the climb up was demanding but I knew that at the top awaited my reward -- breathtaking                 Almost to Temple 88

scenery and the hypnotic sounds of nature that I                               

had become so fond of. In this prefecture I was visited by my boyfriend Matt. We walked together the last 10 temples, returning to Ryozenji and then to Kyoto and Mt. Koya to give thanks. His visit was another reward.


To write about this part of the journey I find myself at a loss for words. Its feelings that I want to share but feelings are difficult to convey. Its been almost a year since my pilgrimage


and it seems as if the experience of being a Henro has not stopped. I have regular flashbacks of smiling and curious faces, indescribable scenery, amazing experiences, and yes, even blisters.


I’d like to thank Parkway readers for allowing me to share my journey with you. Being able to write about my time in Shikoku has strengthened its impact on me and I am grateful for the opportunity to have written about them. I’m especially thankful to Yasuko for asking me to write my story.


If you would like to view a short video about my experiences,  please visit  STUDIO RED DOT PODCAST or YouTube.  Thank you to Mieko Yamada for her dedication to providing the best Japanese              My favorite Henro, Matt                    translation for the video. She captured my words perfectly. I hope you will enjoy watching.




During my walk, I met many other Henro. For some of them it was not their first circuit around the island. As they proudly showed me their pilgrim books with numerous temple stamps, I thought to myself, “What type of person does a pilgrimage like this more than once?” I think I know the answer.


#134 Parkway Vol.25 No.4  October-December 2010

















私の経験を短いビデオ(日本語字幕付き)にしました。ご覧になりたい方は、STUDIO RED DOT PODCASTまたは YouTubeにアクセスしてください。皆さんが楽しんでくださることを願っています。