The Way of the 88 Temples
Journeys on the Shikoku Pilgrimage
Publication Year: 2013
Compelled to seek something more than what modern society has to offer, Robert Sibley turned to an ancient setting for help in recovering what has been lost. The Henro Michi is one of the oldest and most famous pilgrimage routes in Japan. It consists of a circuit of eighty-eight temples around the perimeter of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands. Every henro, or pilgrim, is said to follow in the footsteps of Kōbō Daishi, the ninth-century ascetic who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Over the course of two months, the author walked this 1,400-kilometer route (roughly 870 miles), visiting the sacred sites and performing their prescribed rituals.Although himself a gaijin, or foreigner, Sibley saw no other pilgrim on the trail who was not Japanese. Some of the people he met became not only close companions but also ardent teachers of the language and culture. These fellow pilgrims’ own stories add to the author’s narrative in unexpected and powerful ways. Sibley’s descriptions of the natural surroundings, the customs and etiquette, the temples and guesthouses will inspire any reader who has longed to escape the confines of everyday life and to embrace the emotional, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of a pilgrimage.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
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I want to thank the editors, past and present, at the Ottawa Citizen—in particular, Gerry Nott, Neil Reynolds, Scott Anderson, Lynn McAuley, Christina Spencer, Derek Shelly, Rob Warner, Julius Majerczyk, Kurt Johnson, Sue Allen, Peter Robb, and Mike Gillespie—who, in their various capacities, contributed to this work, which fi rst appeared in a ...
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I stumbled up the bell tower steps, grasped the rope, and hauled the long wooden pole back as far as possible in its cradle. Then I swung the rope forward and slammed the pole against the bronze bell. A loud bong echoed through the courtyard of Shōsanji temple and across the mountain valley. It was, I thought, a satisfying way to announce my ...
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I was in the foyer of the Shōsanji temple lodge by six the next morn-ing, trying to jam my feet into a pair of outdoor slippers for a pre-breakfast stroll to the coﬀ ee machine, when I saw Jun and his father “We would like that—to walk together,” Niwano-san said. “Please, The Japanese tend to be very formal with strangers. Unlike North ...
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I was parked on a bench beneath the sakura, or cherry trees, at Ya-kuōji temple, admiring my ugly new shoes, when a man carrying a little girl in his arms approached. He said something in Japanese that I didn’t catch, but with a camera in hand, the child in the crook of his arm, and the cherry trees in bloom, it wasn’t hard to fi gure out what he ...
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I’d been lying on Katsurahama Beach, absorbed in the grating wash of the Pacifi c Ocean along the gravel shoreline, when Shūji crouched beside me. He held out his arms and opened his hands to reveal a stone I sat up, wondering if this was some kind of Japanese game. I stud-ied the stones for a moment. Each was the size of a large egg. The one ...
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I draped the wet cloth on my head, closed my eyes, and lay back to lapped across my chest as I rested the back of my head against the rim of the pool. My sigh of pleasure must have been audible to the half-dozen other bathers in the Dōgo Onsen. I’d learned the pleasures of Japanese bathhouses a month earlier, and now, with fi fty-one of the ...
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Tanaka-san taught me how to pray properly as we stood between the pillars at the entrance to Emmyōji, Temple Fifty-Three. Inside the tem-ple, facing out toward us, was the gilded and cloth-draped statue of Amida Nyorai, the temple’s honzon, or deity. I tried to ignore the feel-ing that I looked foolish as Tanaka-san showed me how to make the ...
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I wandered among Buddhas. There were hundreds of them: life-size fi gures lining the maze of paths around Unpenji, clustering in groups in the corners of the courtyard, lurking half-hidden in the forest, standing in phalanxes near the pagodas and prayer shrines, and peer-ing out from a copse of mist-shrouded cedar trees. There was some-...
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It had rained in the night, and I stepped carefully as the winding path descended through a copse of dripping cedars. Rounding a curve in the trail, I spotted the red bench half-hidden in a cavern of sumac on the edge of a cliﬀ overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I sat for a few minutes to absorb the view of the sun-sparkled water and the long ...
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Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 1 map
Publication Year: 2013