Temple #11, Fujiidera
If you would walk up in the sky you can reach the International Space Station. And then you can walk down again, and up again – and then you would’ve to walk 1200 kilometer.
Finally, you can reach the Ohenro 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Japan. A beautiful Buddist temple surrounded by nature.
Buddhist statues at temple #18, Onzanji
The Pilgrimage is located on Shikoku, the smallest of the four main islands of Japan. The way covers 1200-1400 kilometer leading around the island like a big circle. It features 88 main Buddhist temples and 20 smaller temples. Starting in Tokushima at Ryōzenji, the path leads directly to the next temple, then the next and so on. By foot, it will take about 40-50 days for a complete trip up to 88, Ōkuboji. But if you don’t have enough time or you can’t walk that far, there are other ways of getting around like chartered bus tours (~12 days), public transport (~25 days), car (~10 days) and bicycle (~25-30 days).
The cost of the whole pilgrimage depends on the choice of the of the trip and the behavior during the Pilgrimage. It can vary from 150.000 up to 700.000 Yen.
Bus pilgrims at the temple #66, Unpenji
The Pilgrimage is not only 1200 kilometer long but also it is, today, over than 1200 years-old. It is said that Kūkai, a Buddhist monk who entered Nirvana, traveled Shikoku founding many religious places and temples and thus founding the Pilgrimage itself. It is also said that the man Emon Saburō started the Pilgrimage. He once rejected the begging Kūkai at his door and later he began to search for Kūkai, walking the course 22 times to find him. Eventually Kūkai appeared, forgave him and allowed him the gift of rebirth. The actual Pilgrimage began to be developed by ascetic monks who followed Kūkai’s footsteps as an act of deep belief in him.
Colourful walking staffs
Today the Pilgrimage in Shikoku is known throughout Japan. Roughly 150.000 Japanese do the course each year of which only about 1.500 doing it by foot. In the western world the Camino de Santiago in Spain is quite an equivalent but the interest in the Ohenro Pilgrimage is slowly growing. Over the past 25 years, big efforts were made to spread all over the word knowledge about the Pilgrimage. It is not unlikely that you will see a “gaijin” on the path.
If you are ready for a spiritual trip throughout the ancient Buddhist temples, it is one of the most highlighted spots to visit in Japan.