Book: Exploring Shinto
Chapter: 9. Buddhist-style Pilgrimage with "Shinto" Meanings
Circulatory pilgrimage to multiple sites (o-meguri お巡り) was first developed in Japan in the context of Buddhist devotions, notably at 33 sites in western Japan dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon. In Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage (Pye 2015) it was shown how the idea of o-meguri was transferred to the context of Shintō, partly due to the popularity of the intermediate Seven Gods of Good Fortune. In this paper two leading cases of circulatory pilgrimage within the Shinto world are explored: one around 25 places where reverence is paid to the god of learning, Sugawara Michizane, concluding with Kitano Tenmangū in Kyoto, and the other which includes no less than 125 sites at Ise. Neither of these pilgrimages bears any Buddhist meaning. The Michizane shrines provide a religious focusing of scholastic or academic ambition. At Ise the main point lies in the purification of the individual’s heart or mind, and in the strengthening of one’s identity in a shared national orientation. The older idea of o-Ise-mairi remains relevant in so far as visits to these many sites are all regarded as referring to one single goal, the Jingū.