“Dōgyō” refers to a companion who walks along the road with you. “Ninin” means two people. In other words, a pilgrim never walks the pilgrimage alone but is always accompanied by Kōbō Daishi. It is often written on the robes and information bulletin boards for Shikoku pilgrims.
The custom of local people giving walking pilgrims various gifts such as food as an expression of respect and goodwill. It is considered impolite for pilgrims to refuse such offers.
A respectful and friendly nickname for pilgrims on the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
To worship at a temple or shrine. It comes from the fact that pilgrims in the old days used to nail (in Japanese “utsu”) a wooden tag with their name on to the hall as a sign of their visit.
To visit the temples in numerical order, starting with the first temple.
To visit temples in reverse order from the 88th temple. It is harder than junuchi and therefore considered more beneficial.
To complete the pilgrimage and visit all 88 temples. If you start from T1 Ryōzenji, T88 Okuboji will be your final destination. If you start from midway, the 88th temple you visit will be your final destination.
To return to the starting temple after visiting all 88 temples. It can also mean making a pilgrimage to Koyasan, where Kōbō Daishi is enshrined, to report the completion of kechigan.
These sections are so steep and difficult that they make pilgrims fall down. They include the paths to T11-T12 and T19-T21, T60 at 750 meters above sea level, and T66 at 910 meters above sea level.
Experienced guides who have completed the entire 88 temple pilgrimage numerous times.
The 88 temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, or it can also refer to the pilgrims.
The 88 temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. It comes from visiting the temples and dedicating name slips, or fudasho in Japanese.
Temples that are historically related to Kūkai and the pilgrimage, yet not included among the main 88 temples.
A shortened term for “Shikoku Bekkaku 20 Temples,” comprising 20 of the Bangai temples.
Words about the Temples
The main gate of a Buddhist temple. Originally, temples were built on mountains and called by their mountain names. As a remnant of this, temple gates were called sanmon (mountain gate) even if they were located on flat land.
A water stand for purifying your body inside and out before visiting a temple. It is situated near the entrance or approach to the temple, and visitors rinse their hands and mouths with water from the basin using a ladle.
The bell tower where visitors ring the bell.
The main building of the temple where the honzon is enshrined.
A building enshrining Kōbō Daishi.
An office where pilgrims get a vermilion seal and ink signature (a temple stamp) in their nōkyōchō, as well as omie and good-luck charms. It originally meant a place to dedicate shakyō.
Boxes for votive tablets in the Hondō and the Daishidō.
A transcription of a Buddhist sutra. In modern Japan, “shakyō” often refers to copying the “般若心経 Hannya Shingyo” (Heart Sutra).
A Buddha image that is the center of faith.
A picture of the temple honzon.
A symbolic stone that bears the impression of the footprint of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
Priests who are responsible for the operation and management of the temples.
Trivia about Buddhism
One of the philosophies and doctrines of Buddhism. It originated in India and spread to China. In the early 9th century, Kūkai brought it back from China and systematized its teachings as Japanese Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. It preaches Sokushin Jōbutsu, meaning realizing ultimate enlightenment and becoming a Buddha in this lifetime, in the body you have, and offers prayers for blessings, which led to the spread of the faith throughout Japan from the imperial family to the common people. While Esoteric Buddhism has declined in India and China, it remains in Japan and Tibet, and so does the practice of Sokushin Jōbutsu.
A Buddhist sect based on the doctrine of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism. Buddhism split into various branches depending on doctrinal practice and other factors. Of the 88 temples on the Shikoku Pilgrimage course, 80 belong to the Shingon sect, including Kōyasan Shingon-shū, Shingon-shū Buzan-ha, and Shingon-shū Omuro-ha.
Koyasan is a sacred place of Esoteric Shingon Buddhism, founded by Kūkai as a Zen monastery. Located in the northern part of Wakayama Prefecture, the entire Koyasan area is considered Sohonzan Kongobuji Temple. People believe that Kobo Daishi still practices asceticism in the inner sanctuary and pilgrims should visit there before or after completing the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
This is a characteristic doctrine of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, which holds that a human being can attain ultimate enlightenment and become a Buddha in the same body in which they live. In traditional Japanese Buddhism, it was necessary to repeat life and death countless times to attain Buddhahood. On the other hand, Shingon Esoteric Buddhism teaches that practicing the three esoteric practices enables attainment of Buddhahood in this lifetime.
A ceremony to pray for the spiritual power of Buddha. In Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, people burn gomagi, make various shapes with their hands (tein), and chant mantras to pray for the blessing of Buddha.
Mantra. An incantation-like word used to call out to the Buddha and wish for his blessing. Originally a Sanskrit word, it was difficult to translate and was transcribed into Chinese characters. Each Buddha has his own mantra.
A ritual of Esoteric Buddhism and Shugendo. Offerings and gomagi (wooden sticks with prayers written on them) are placed in a fire, and the wishes are carried by the fire to devaloka, a concept similar to heaven, to pray for fulfillment.
A painting that illustrates the world of Buddhism. Esoteric Buddhist mandalas include the Vajrayana Mandala and the Tathagata Mandala, which depict the two major Buddhist scriptures, the Dainichikyō Sutra and the Vajrayana Sutra, respectively. Both have Dainichi Nyorai in the center.
A government religious policy issued in 1868. Shinto and Buddhism had intermingled in Japan for a thousand years, but the government decided to distinguish the two and make Shinto the national religion. This led to the spread of anti-Buddhist sentiment among the people. In Shikoku, many Buddhist statues, ritual utensils, and sutras were destroyed in the temples.
Types of Buddhist Statues
Buddhist statues can be divided into the following four groups (Nyorai, Bosatsu, Myōō, and Tenbu), which play different roles.
Nyorai means “beings who have become enlightened” and Nyorai are rated as the highest level of beings who descended from the Buddhist world to save all beings. They have spiral-shaped hair and, as a general rule, hold no artifacts or accessories. Dainichi Nyorai, however, wears a crown. Nyorai include Shaka Nyorai (Shakyamuni), Amida Nyorai, Yakushi Nyorai, and Dainichi Nyorai.
While performing religious training with Nyorai, Bosatsu exert efforts to save all beings. They wear ornamentations such as crowns, necklaces, and earrings and often carry tools in their hands that will be used to fulfill people’s wishes. They include Jūichimen Kannon Bosatsu (Eleven-faced Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva), Senju Kannon Bosatsu (One thousand-armed Avolokitesvara Bodhisattva), Jizō Bosatsu (Jizō Bodhisattva), Shō Kannon Bosatsu (Sacred Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva), Batō Kannon Bosatsu (Horse-Head Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva), Kokūzō Bosatsu (Akasagarbha Bodhisattva), Monju Bosatsu (Manjusri Bodhisattva), and Miroku Bosatsu (Maitreya Bodhisattva).
Myōō (Wisdom Kings)
Myoo are beings unique to Esoteric Buddhism. As messengers of Dainichi Nyorai, they are awe-inspiring and responsible for teaching people who do not follow Buddhism. When depicted in statues, they often look frightening, carrying flames on their backs and weapons. They include Fudō Myōō (Acala Vidyaraja), Aizen Myōō (Rāgarāja), and Kongō Yasha Myōō (Vajrayakṣa).
Tenbu protect Nyorai, Bosatsu, and Myōō from the enemies of Buddha. Originating in Brahmanism, they were incorporated into Buddhism. There are many statues of warriors and noblemen in various forms. Four of them (Jikokuten, Zōchōten, Kōmokuten, and Tamonten), as a group, are generally called the Shitennō, the Four Heavenly Kings, and their role is to protect the Buddhist world in each of the four directions: North, South, East and West. On the other hand, Kongō Rikishi (Niō Guardians) stand to the left and right side of the main gate leading to a temple, blocking the enemies of Buddha. Others are Benzaiten, Taishakuten, Bishamonten, Kichijōten, Enmaten, Suiten, and Bonten.
Statues of Buddhist practitioners and high priests are called Rakan (Arhats), and groups of such statues are called Jūroku Rakan (Sixteen Arhats), Gohyaku Rakan (Five Hundred Arhats), which are worshipped by people. Statues of the founders of religious sects are also objects of worship.