徳島 英会話教室 

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Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage Complete

This past Sunday, I completed my nearly 4-year journey of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage! This journey took me over 1400 km (over 900 miles) to complete and required several visits to the remote corners and mountains of Tokushima, Kochi, Ehime and Kagawa prefectures. It is written in Japanese literature that human beings have always had a fascination with nature, the unknown country and the mystical encounter of a great savior. The people of Japan believe there is no better place where one can travel along the island in such isolation and fulfill these inner curiosities than by visiting the historical temples and following in the footsteps of Kobo Daishi, the founder of 88 Temple Pilgrimage and Japanese Buddhism. For over 1000 years, pilgrims have made this journey around Shikoku Island in hopes of achieving everlasting enlightenment. Embarking on this journey I believe takes you back in time to a more quiet, ancient ambiance of an old country often lost in the modern day image of Japan. There are many reasons why people attempt to do the pilgrimage and can vary depending on one’s individual incentive, desire, and wishes. There are several types of inner motivations involved in the Shikoku pilgrimage: first of all, sightseeing among natural scenic wonders such as whirlpools, the Inland Sea, stalactite caves, deep gorges, soaring mountain cliffs, and panoramic views of the coastline; secondly, praying for the quick recovery from a prolonged illness; thirdly, memorial prayer for the eternal peace of a passed family member; fourthly, liberation from the bondage of family and business struggles; fifthly, seeking enlightenment through the knowledge of the Shingon esoteric tradition. My personal motivation includes some of these elements, but moreover, I believe my placement on this island was more than just random luck. Being a Tibetan-American and placed on an island, home to the most famous Japanese buddhist pilgrimage – this was a sign I felt necessary to appreciate. Although I have completed my visit to all 88 Temples, the journey is unfulfilled until a visit is made to Okunoin Temple on Mt. Koya in Wakayama. This is the place where Kobo Daishi went into eternal meditation and where all pilgrims are required to pay respect before concluding their pilgrimage. I plan to make this trip this summer. Until then, this chapter in MY LIFE AND TIMES IN JAPAN is not fully concluded…

Note: Picture of me standing in front of Okuboji Temple, number 88 – the last temple on the pilgrimage.

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