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Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage

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Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage explores the ritual practice of "circulatory pilgrimages" – the visiting of many temples in a numbered sequence. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims travel such temple routes, seeking peace of mind, health and wellbeing for themselves and others as the benefits of such meritorious endeavour. This form of pilgrimage appears to be unique to Japan. The practice began centuries ago and involved visiting 33 temples devoted to the Bodhisattva Kannon, spread widely over western Japan. Soon afterwards the equally famous pilgrimage to 88 temples on Japan’s fourth island of Shikoku came into prominence.

This is the first comprehensive study of all the major and many of the minor routes, The book also examines how the practice of circulatory pilgrimage developed among the shrines and temples for the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, and beyond them to the rather different world of Shintō. The varying significance of the different pilgrimages is also explored. In addition to all the information about the routes, the book includes numerous illustrations and examples of the short Buddhist texts chanted by the pilgrims on their rounds.

Published: Feb 1, 2015

Section Chapter Authors
List of Figures Michael Pye
List of Tables Michael Pye
Preface Michael Pye
Chapter 1
Introduction Michael Pye
Chapter 2
Going Round to Visit Kannon-Sama Michael Pye
Chapter 3
The Shikoku Pilgrimage Michael Pye
Chapter 4
More Buddhist Routes Michael Pye
Chapter 5
Going Round to Other Divinities Michael Pye
Chapter 6
The Pilgrim’s Transaction Michael Pye
Chapter 7
The Meaning of Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage Michael Pye
Chapter 8
General Conclusions Michael Pye
End Matter
Bibliography Michael Pye
Index of Temples and Shrines Michael Pye
General Index Michael Pye

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A commendable work. The first six chapters alone allow readers to gain basic information about the great diversity of pilgrimage routes in Japan as well as specifics about pilgrimage rituals and etiquette, material culture, and so on. Pye's views about the meaning of Buddhist pilgrimage in Japan are built upon the premise that the motivations for undertaking them are intrinsically religious at their core. While this will not be persuasive to all, it offers an important academic perspective.
Religious Studies Review

A fascinating work which should prove an enduring resource in the study of Japanese religions and pilgrimage studies more generally. It is well-written, highly informative and based on much first-hand observation and hard-to-obtain Japanese sources.
Professor Brian Bocking, University College Cork

The details offered here are crucial to an understanding of Japanese pilgrimage culture, and many of the insights that Pye gives on invention and hybridization of religious practices are highly germane to the anthropology of Japanese, Eastern, and indeed all religion.
Anthropology Review Database