Due South : Zentsuu-ji, Kagawa – Quick Shikoku Pilgrimage
Mini hachi-jyuu-hachi kasho meguri (Quick circuit for 88 sacred places)
Behind the temple, there is a small mountain called “Koushiki-zan” (lit. “Mt. Scent-colour”).
There is a path encircling the mountain, which is about 1.6 km (approx. 1 mile) long.
This is a very short version of the well-known pilgrimage in Japan : “(Shikoku) Hachi-jyuu-hachi kasho meguri” (lit. “Visiting around eighty-eight places”) or “Ohenro” (lit. “Covering all the route”).
“Pilgrimage” is “Jyunrei” in Japanese, so it is often referred as “Shikoku Jyunrei” too.
It is said that this short route was established in the late Edo era.
The route starts from the temple called “Gochi-in”.
Stone statues, carved in the Edo period, are placed on the sides of the pathway, and eighty-eight of them represent a respective temple.
There seemed to be a stamp card to record the dates of your pilgrimage, but I’m not sure if there still is.
I didn’t do nothing special, just walked along the path.
This sort of “shortcut” pilgrimages can be seen throughout Japan.
O-suna fumi (lit. “Setting foot on the sand”)
“O-suna fumi” is a certain type of shortcuts for eighty-eight places.
Collect the sand from all the temples and put it in one place (this doesn’t mean that the sand will be mixed), and people walk on it.
Originally, the sand from eighty-eight places was put into 88 places burlap bags, and placed in front of 88 hanging scrolls which the main gods of the temples were drawn.
People set foot on these bags one by one, with praying to each god, so that they could finish their pilgrimage without going around Shikoku Island.
Many of shortcut 88-site pilgrimages are this “o-suna fumi”, but I don’t know whether the “mini” one in Zentsuu-ji is “o-suna fumi” as well.
Maybe the sand from each temple is buried in the ground in front of the respective statue.
In the Zentsuu-ji temple, there is a place for “o-suna fumi” (Japanese website).
Hachi-jyuu-hachi kasho meguri
The proper version of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
All the 88 temples are said to be where Kuukai performed various Buddhist practices.
There is a legend about the beginning of the pilgrimage:
In the Ehime prefecture of Shikoku Island, there was a very rich man called “Emon-Saburou”, who was known to be quite greedy and ruthless.
One day, a miserable-looking Buddhist monk came to his house to ask for alms.
(It’s one of Buddhist practices, known as “takuhatsu”.)
He succeeded to get rid of the monk with violence.
After the incident, his eight children died one after another.
When he found out that the monk was Kuukai, he regretted his crucial deeds (not only to Kuukai) and decided to go around temples in search for the monk to be forgiven…
It is said that this is how the Shikoku Pilgrimage route was established.
For the map of 88 temples, see here (Japanese website by a travel agency).
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