Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage and Kumano Kodo

A 1200 kilometer loop Pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku in Japan. Pilgrims follow the 9th century path of Kukai. Pilgrims also pass through many Shinto Shrines and Temples as well.

Many of the temples are said to have been founded or restored by the revered monk and scholar Kūkai, better known by his posthumous title Kōbō Daishi. He brought the tantric teachings of Buddhism from China, developed it into the uniquely Japanese Shingon sect, and founded Shingon’s headquarters on Mount Koya near Osaka.

While most modern-day pilgrims (an estimated 100,000 yearly) travel by tour bus, a small minority, just a few thousand, still set out the old-fashioned way on foot, a journey which usually takes five to six weeks to complete.

Joining me for 70% of this pilgrimage was Mika Yamanoue, a Japanese national from Kobe. We walked with Kukai 35 days reaching all 88 Temples starting from Temple 1, April 13, 2019, concluding at Temple 88 May 17.

We then walked the Kumano Kodo (Kohechi Trail) going through Mt. Koyasan and the incredible Okunoin Cemetery where Kukai’s (Kobodashi) Spirit resides. The Kumano Kodo is a sister trail to the Camino de Santiago.

Which Camino Should I Walk After Frances?

If you have walked the Camino Frances and dream of a repeat, it is certainly a viable option to walk Frances again. Why it is the best of the Caminos is explained at Why Frances Is The Best Camino. That said, if you are feeling a desire for something different, there are 17 alternative Caminos …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. The End With A Connection To The Camino De Santiago:

Departed at 6:30AM on the 35th day of our walk around Shikoku Island. We ascended 3 hours a challenging 286 meters to Temple 84. Many of the Temples are on mountain tops so at this point we are just used to it. Walking by the Main Temple, a monk was blowing a horn. That’s a …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgimage. Only 10 Temples To Go:

Returning us to the Pilgrimage, Tomo stopped at Udon factory restaurant for delicious noodles where we were able to participate in the preparation. Great fun.   Afterwards he dropped us off at Temple 75 and wished us well on our remaining journey. We then walked to 76, Konzoji, about 3k and enjoyed 1100 year old …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. A Gift From tomoyoshi Kubo:

Departed Bansui at 7:30 with a peaceful walk along the river quite a while before veering north to Temple 70 where Main Temple is a national treasure and there was a picturesque 5 story pagoda.    A sweet cleaning lady gave us little treat bags osettai with a note included telling us to place refuse …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Meeting Survivor of Hiroshima Bomb:

We left Onaru Guesthouse at 7:45 and our hostess escorted us out offering directions and a wave goodbye. What a wonderful start to our day. We strolled through town and on the outskirts we passed a friendly young girl with her Dad. In return for the gift of her beautiful smile, I gave her one …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Meeting a survivor of Hiroshima Atom Bomb:

We left Onaru Guesthouse at 7:45 and our hostess escorted us out offering directions and a wave goodbye. What a wonderful start to our day. We strolled through town and on the outskirts we passed a friendly young girl with her Dad. In return for the gift of her beautiful smile, I gave her one …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. A WWII Cemetery and Many Temples:

Today’s morning began with a 50 minute walk to the quiet Temple 54. Continuing afterwards meandering through a small village, a woman came running up and invited us into her yard and invited us to pick some ripe red cherries from the tree in her yard.   Leaving the village we found ourselves in the …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. A Hot Soak By The Sea:

Perhaps the best Ryokan on the Pilgrimage, Seapa Makoto had an Onsen (bath) with 4 pools including one outside overlooking the sea and the setting sun, a private large bath in the room with a view of the sea, and delicious food with some western options like Fried Shrimp and Chicken.   Day 26. We …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Japan Can Be a Crowded Place:

We continued on walking through a populated city, which is one of the only downsides of this pilgrimage. There are 126 Million people living in Japan, about 40% of the population of the USA, living in an area about the size of California. Shikoku Island is the smallest of the 4 main islands making up …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Connecting with Frenchman, Damien:

This pilgrimage has been mostly about walking alone or with Mika and engaging briefly with locals we run into. Unlike other pilgrimages, such as the Camino de Santiago, or Nepal, we have only had brief encounters with other pilgrims and rarely see ohenros more than once. That has changed the past few days as we …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Japan Can Be Crowded:

We continued on walking through a populated city, which is one of the only downsides of this pilgrimage. There are 126 Million people living in Japan, about 40% of the population of the USA, living in an area about the size of California. Shikoku Island is the smallest of the 4 main islands making up …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. Land of Many Contrasts:

Today is May 1 and the 19th day of this pilgrimage. It has been totally different from any of the previous walking journeys. Japan is in one word, exotic. The people, the customs, the foods, the architecture, are all so different for Westerners. The Japanese are clean, organized, and above all polite. At dinner Mika …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. A New Emperor:

Yesterday was the beginning of Golden Week in Japan. This is a week with some sort of remembrance each day, ie.; Childrens Day, Greenery Day, Constitution Day, and Showa Day which commemorates the birthday of Emperor Hirohito who reigned from 1926 to 1989. Also, this is a big travel week for the Japanese so we …

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Japan 88 Temple Pilgrimage. The Return of Mika:

Day 13 April 2019:   Joined Sumiko, a friendly guest who spoke good English, for breakfast before heading out along the bay. After a few hours of road walking along the water, in the distance  a European backpacker appeared coming in my direction. “She must be walking the pilgrimage in the other direction,” I thought. …

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JAPAN 88 Temple Pilgrimage; Days 11-12

Got out late and had to backtrack because road shortcut went through tunnel so I veered east and picked up trail going up mountain. Temple Chikurin 31 is laden with beautiful mossy trees and Shinto Shrine between gate and temple. Descended and got photo of little school kids. Made it to Temple Zenjibu 32 and …

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JAPAN 88 Temple Pilgrimage-Day 8 Feeling Kukai

Walking up the hill to Temple 24 after visiting a cave where Kobo Daishi(The saint who introduced Buddhism to Japan) supposedly experienced enlightenment, I start experiencing some nice thoughts of tolerance and happiness and feeling very happy. Then after walking all the way down the hill I realize my hat is gone so walk back …

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