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Book: Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage

Chapter: More Buddhist Routes

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24523


This chapter covers circulatory Buddhist pilgrimage routes which follow the basic concept of the two main models but are associated with other buddhas, bodhisattvas and holy places. The easy association of different kinds of buddhist divinities is found notably in the list of the “thirteen buddhas” (jūsanbutsu) found in devotional books, especially in the context of Shingon Buddhism. Two figures who cross various denominational boundaries and whose own pilgrimages are briefly introduced are Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Medicine and Fudō Myōō, the Immovable Bright King. Another major figure is the bodhisattva Jizō, known in Japanese formally as Jizō Bosatsu and popularly as Jizō-sama, who is particularly close to the people and is represented in a myriad statues all over the country. The practice of making special visits to the various places connected with the founders of particular practices or teachings as well as pilgrimage in Shin Buddhism is discussed. The concept of encouraging visits to a number of halls within one major temple complex is covered including important examples such as Mount Hiei, Kyōto’s centre of Tendai Buddhism, and Mount Kōya, the ultimate home of Shingon Buddhism. In modern times Buddhist temple authorities have begun to cater for those who do not have a strong devotional attachment to any one buddha, bodhisattva or religious leader. Thus in 1984 a group known as the “Society for Familiar Temples” came into existence in order to promote visits to a collection of forty temples in Kyōto. The practice of circumambulation widely current in various religions of the world is discussed.

Chapter Contributors

  • Michael Pye ( - book-auth-571) 'Marburg University, (Emeritus) and Otani University'