UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The development of Shikoku Henro : the formation and dissemination of a pilgrimage in pre-modern Japan : a case study of Shikoku Okawa, Eiji


This study will examine the development of a pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan, commonly known as Shikoku henro. Anyone familiar with this pilgrimage would know that this is a topic that has drawn much academic and non-academic attention in the recent years. We have come to know more about this pilgrimage than ever before, thanks to the meticulous studies that have been conducted by scholars in and out of Japan. If there is a general trend in the recent studies, it is toward the anthropological/sociological interpretation of the pilgrimage, and the interactions of the pilgrimage with the society in which it exists. These studies also tend to focus on the modern era. Doubtless, such focuses are immensely valuable when seeking to shed light to this complex phenomenon. However, it may be time that we can reconsider the historical processes around this pilgrimage, by incorporating the recent findings of this and other pilgrimages, and by re-examining the historical materials pertaining to the subject. Thus, I will focus on the pre-modern developments in the pilgrimage of Shikoku. Specifically, the religious themes and the activities of the religious specialists in relation to the pilgrimage will be thoroughly analyzed in the context of pre-modern Japan (before 1868). In doing so, I will deal with issues that have yet to be addressed, such as the relationship between the pilgrimage and the pilgrimage temples. One might be inclined to assume that the two came hand in hand from the start—that the temples and their affiliates, as the prime beneficiaries of the pilgrimage, must have taken various measures to lure the pilgrims. Such an assumption, however, would drape the dynamics behind the formation of this pilgrimage, as will be demonstrated in this thesis.

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