Last year I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the Suruga Bank Grant for Non-Japanese Instructors. The aim of the grant is to further international education by encouraging recipients to engage in research and/or educational activities related to Japanese culture and society with a focus on Shizuoka Prefecture, interacting with children and other local residents.
I chose to write a simple guide/blog about the Izu 88 Temple Pilgrimage. The pilgrimage covers all parts of the peninsula from Atami all the way to Shimoda.
There are various reasons people may have for embarking on such a journey. For hundreds of years, people have set out on journeys which originally were on foot, stopping at each temple to reflect, atone for their sins, recite sacred chants and offer prayer slips. The very faithful still adhere to these rituals but are far fewer in numbers when compared with the modern day pilgrim. Now, many take to the comforts of organized bus tours or their own transportation to complete the pilgrimage.
Some face turning points in their lives, whether it be a critical juncture in their age or choice of occupation, others think of it as a chance to reflect on themselves and what they’ve done in their lives up to this point, and yet others consider the completion of a pilgrimage as a fresh start to their lives from here on in, and as a merit towards their next life.
Through this blog, I will attempt to give you some insight into what each temple in its own special way has to offer, including unique stories related to the foundation of some temples, as well as stories of people who have completed the pilgrimage, and hope to provide some insight into the importance of the temples to the local residents.
I would very much appreciate any comments or questions you may have about the pilgrimage, and I ask for your patience as I complete this project over a year which began in April 2012.