For several years now, I had the privilege to talk about my hikes and pilgrimages at the Spirit of the Senses Salons. One of the longest hikes was the 600 miles long pilgrimage in France, the Voie de Vezelay two years ago. Last year, I walked the Camino Primitivo in Spain, the original pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Beginning of March this year, I will start the pilgrimage of the 88 Temples in Shikoku/Japan. Many years ago, I heard about this ancient pilgrimage route going back to the 9th century circling around the 4th largest island of Japan in an over 800 miles loop. I never thought that I will be able to do it myself – there was the hindrance of not knowing the Japanese language, the pilgrimage itself seemed too long, too foreign and contained too much uncertainty.
Despite all these concerns, over the last couple of years, the Shikoku pilgrimage became more possible and took on form. One big factor was the invitation of my Japanese friends Yuko and Shigeo to visit them in Tokyo. They will travel with me to the start of the pilgrimage and walk with me the first couple of days. Another Japanese friend told me about the very old tradition to help the Ohenro (pilgrim) in need on the way. Those two factors gave me the courage to do the step into the unknown.
My intention is to walk with an open mind and firm ground under my feet. I allowed myself to take two months to finish my pilgrimage (the average is 45 days) in order to write, take photos, not to be stressed for time. Every day (if there is internet connection) I will poste one haiku (Japanese poem) and at least one photo to catch the mood of the day. It would be great if you would walk with me and Kukai the 88 Temple pilgrimage. (Kukai is the name of the 9th century Saint in whose footsteps the pilgrims walk. It is believed that Kukai is walking with every pilgrim on the way).
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