Student Series! Temple Chasing: A Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage

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This is the map of the Shikoku Buddhist temple pilgrimage. This pilgrimage spreads across the whole island of Shikoku, it is 700 miles and there are 88 temples in the whole trip. You start in Tokushima, travel along the sea to Kochi city, and continue along the border. When you hit the bottom you start going up until you reach Ehme. From there you travel to Kagawa, Takamaksu then back to Tokushima.

All of the temples have their own rituals for visitors. You bow before each and every temple; kind of like saying “hello” to Buddha. There are other rituals too, when you walk in, you ring a bell to announce you have arrived and you light a candle. Additionally, the pilgrims wear simple garments on this journey: big hats to keep sun, wind and rain out of their face and tunics to cover their bodies. Tunics are simple clothing that wrap around your body, it’s one large piece of cloth that twist and folds to fit any body shape.

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There are many different ways to experience this adventure: some pilgrims walk, some take a bus through the entire island, and some drive themselves. Only a few thousand of the hundred thousands of people walk this trip. When people walk, they believe that it will bring them closer enlightenment and make the arduous experience worth it. Most people can’t walk the whole way due to many personal limitations. Some sleep in tents and some get hotel rooms for the night. All these people are different but they come together for one thing: religion experience.


  • Erricker, Clive. Buddhism: A Complete Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc. 2015.
  • “Introduction to Buddhism.” Oprah Winfrey Network. Youtube video. 3:18. Posted on October 23, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lxq-RiLb-6M
  • Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler. Directed by Leo Eaton. 2014. PBS, 2014. DVD.

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