August 13, 2015

1816 JAPAN (Shikoku) - Pilgrims in Shōdo Island

Located in the Inland Sea of Japan, the Shōdo Island (Island of Small Beans) is a popular destination for domestic tourism, firstly due to its natural features such as the Dobuchi Strait (the world's narrowest strait - 9.93 m), the Angel Road, Shōdoshima Olive Park and the Kanka Gorge. In addition, tourists are attracted to a miniature version of the 88-temple Shikoku Pilgrimage (124km compared to 1,200km), which begins near Sakate Port and visits in a clockwise fashion 88 temples across the island. The route can be completed in a one-week visit, easier on pilgrims (henro) and tourists alike.

During the 8th century, when envoys sent to China by the Imperial family brought back the "new religion," the monk  Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi) introduced Shingon Buddhism to fishermen on the nearby larger island of Shikoku. Kūkai, teaching that enlightenment could be achieved through the recitation of Buddhist scriptures, inspired construction of the 88 temples ("8" is a holy number symbolizing all of humanities passions and desires). Shortly after establishing the route on the Shikoku Island, Kūkai fashioned the mini-route on the Shōdo Island.

The temples vary in their splendor from large establishments with stately halls to simple single buildings. One of the temples is home to a 1500-year-old juniper tree, planted by the emperor in the Meiji period. This temple is also the site of a battle that took place involving Miyamoto Musashi. The pilgrim's traditional costume comprises an oizuru (a white shirt), a sugegasa (the conical Asian hat), and kongō-zue (an wooden staff inscribed with the chant Namu-Daishi-Henjō-Kongō and Dōgyō-Ninin or "We two pilgrims together").

This may be supplemented by a wagesa (a strip of cloth worn around the neck). The henro also carries a zuda-bukuro (a bag) containing osame fuda (paper prayer slips), juzu (prayer beads), a nōkyōchō (a book to collect red ink stamp by each temple), senkō (incense sticks), and osaisen (coins used as offerings). The more religiously-minded henro may also carry a kyōbon (a book of sutras) and go-eika (sacred poems) set with a bell.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a series depicting traditional crafts.

Shōdo Island - Wikipedia
Shikoku Pilgrimage - Wikipedia
Shodo Island Autumn Festivals and Performances - Japan National Tourism Organization official website
Pilgrimage to the 88 Sacred Places of Shikoku - The website of Dave Turkington
The Elements of the Pilgrimage - The website of Aaron Bell

Sender: Akiko Watanabe (direct swap)
Sent from Kitakyūshū (Kyūshū / Japan), on 10.11.2013 

No comments:

Post a Comment