Format Type: PDF, ePub, Docs
Read Online: 474
This study involves a fourteen-hundred-kilometer-long pilgrimage around Japan s fourth largest island, Shikoku. In traveling the circuit of the eighty-eight Buddhist temples that make up the route, pilgrims make their journey together with Kobo Daishi (774 835), the holy miracle-working figure who is at the heart of the pilgrimage. Once seen as a marginal practice, recent media portrayal of the pilgrimage as a symbol of Japanese cultural heritage has greatly increased the number of participants, both Japanese and foreign. In this absorbing look at the nature of the pilgrimage, Ian Reader examines contemporary practices and beliefs in the context of historical development, taking into account theoretical considerations of pilgrimage as a mode of activity and revealing how pilgrimages such as Shikoku may change in nature over the centuries. This rich ethnographic work covers a wide range of pilgrimage activity and behavior, drawing on accounts of pilgrims traveling by traditional means on foot as well as those taking advantage of the new package bus tours, and exploring the pilgrimage s role in the everyday lives of participants and the people of Shikoku alike. It discusses the various ways in which the pilgrimage is made and the forces that have shaped it in the past and in the present, including history and legend, the island s landscape and residents, the narratives and actions of the pilgrims and the priests who run the temples, regional authorities, and commercial tour operators and bus companies. In studying the Shikoku pilgrimage from anthropological, historical, and sociological perspectives, Reader shows in vivid detail the ambivalence and complexity of pilgrimage as a phenomenon that is simultaneously local, national, and international and both marginal and integral to the lives of its participants. Critically astute yet highly accessible, Making Pilgrimages will be welcomed by those with an interest in anthropology, religious studies, and Japanese studies, and will be essential for anyone contemplating making the pilgrimage themselves.