There are many famous religious pilgrimages in the world, such as the Way of St. James in Spain and the Mecca Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Rivaling these is a pilgrimage in our very backyard: the “Shikoku Henro” (Henro = Pilgrimage). This year is the 1200th year since the year that a man named Kobo Daishi (Kukai) from present-day Kagawa Prefecture is said to have selected 88 temples in Shikoku to be part of the pilgrimage, thus founding it. Today, this “Shikoku Henro” is being thrust into the limelight domestically and abroad.
We looked into why there are 88 temples in the pilgrimage, but it seems that there is no clear answer. Some explanations are that perhaps it is to ward off the bad luck that comes with “unlucky ages” that add up to 88 in Japan (42 years old for men, 33 for women, and 13 for children), or perhaps it is to cleanse a person’s 88 worldly desires one by one.
This issue of Tosa Wave is for readers interested in the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Even if your current age isn’t one of the Japanese unlucky ages and even if you aren’t plagued by worldly desires, living in Shikoku is a great opportunity to experience the pilgrimage. We cover everything—from pilgrim clothing to the conditions at three of the 16 temples in Kochi handpicked by our staff—and everything in between.