Pilgrims Until We Die: Unending Pilgrimage in Shikoku

ISBN : 9780197573594

Ian Reader; John Shultz
264 ページ
156 x 235 mm

The Shikoku pilgrimage, a 1400 kilometre, eighty-eight temple circuit around Japan's fourth largest island, takes around forty days by foot, or one week by car. Historically, Buddhist ascetics walked it without ceasing, creating a tradition of unending pilgrimage that continues in the present era, both by pilgrims on foot and by others in cars. Some spend decades walking the pilgrimage, while others drive it repeatedly, completing hundreds of pilgrimage circuits. Most are retired and make the pilgrimage the centre of their post-work lives. Others who work full-time spend their holidays and weekends as pilgrims. Some have only done the pilgrimage a few times but already imagine themselves as unending pilgrims and intend to do it "until we die". They talk happily of being addicted and having Shikokuby?, 'Shikoku illness', portraying this 'illness' and addiction as blessings. Featuring extensive fieldwork and interviews, this study of Japan's most famous Buddhist pilgrimage presents new theoretical perspectives on pilgrimage in general, along with rich ethnographic examples of pilgrimage practices in contemporary Japan. Pilgrims Until We Die counteracts normative portrayals of pilgrimage as a transient activity, defined by a temporary leave of absence from home to visit sacred places outside the parameters of everyday life, showing that many participants view pilgrimage as a way of creating a sense of home and permanence on the road. Examining how obsession, devotion, and a sense of addiction aided by modern developments and economic factors have created a culture of recurrent pilgrimage, Pilgrims Until We Die challenges standard understandings of pilgrimage.


Introduction: A Pilgrim Until I Die
Chapter One: The Shikoku Pilgrimage: History, Legends, Ascetics, and the Structure of Repetition
Chapter Two: Modern Stimulations: Money, Health, Time and Commemoration
Chapter Three: Living on the Pilgrimage: Perpetual Itinerancy and 'Professional Pilgrims'
Chapter Four: Attitudes, Practices, Schedules and Triggers: Addictive Patterns and the Intensity of Performance
Chapter Five: Pilgrims and their Cars: Sociability, Scenery, Faith and Enjoyment
Chapter Six: Walkers on the Way: Multiplicity, Motivations, Health and Retirement
Concluding Comments and New Challenges


Ian Reader is Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester, where he was previously Professor of Japanese Studies. He has also held academic positions in Scotland, Hawaii, Denmark, and Japan. He has written widely on religion in Japan, and on issues related to the study of pilgrimage. Among his recent books are Dynamism and the Ageing of a Japanese New Religion with Erica Baffelli, Health-Related Votive Tablets from Japan: Ema for Healing and Well-being, co-authored with Peter de Smet, Pilgrimage: A Very Short Introduction, and Pilgrimage in the Marketplace. John Shultz is Associate Professor of Asian Religion and Philosophy at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan. He has authored numerous articles and book chapters concerning religion in contemporary Japan, including such topics as first-person pilgrimage accounts, new media and religion, and mountain ascetic practice.