- Museum number
Hat (kasa) of woven bamboo, from the set for a pilgrimage (ohenro) covering the 88 temples of Shikoku island conducted in 2008, associated with Kukai.
- Production date
Diameter: 45 centimetres
Height: 23 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- A complete set of clothing and accessories for the Ohenro pilgrimage circuit of 88 temples in Shikoku island (Shikoku hachijū-hakkasho 四国八十八ヶ所) dedicated to the Buddhist monk Kūkai (Kōbō Daishi). The set is composed of eleven pieces: bamboo hat (kasa 笠), robe (hakui 白衣), cloth bag (zudabukuro 頭陀袋), hand-towel (tenugui 手拭), stick (tsue 杖), sutra book (kyōhon 経本), 2 rosaries (juzu 数珠), stole (wagesa 輪袈裟) and 2 books of seals and calligraphy brushed by priest from each temple on the circuit (go-shuinchō 御朱印帳).
Mrs Watanabe bought the set in 2008 while on Shikoku island to complete the pilgrimage herself. It took her a whole year to finish the circuit with her family. Her daughter attended Central St Martin’s College in London and was acquainted with a patron of the British Museum (Max Rutherston) and it was through this connection that the donation was made via Dr. Matsuba Ryoko.
The Shikoku Ohenro takes place in Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime and Kochi Prefectures. It began soon after the monk Kūkai (774-835) died and is based around his personal religious practice. It encompasses 88 temples that make up a circuit of 1400 kilometres. The number 88 is auspicious in Japan as the three components can form the character for ‘rice.’ Amida Nyorai and Yakushi Nyorai are the principal deities. The point of the pilgrimage circuit is to follow in the steps of and therefore with Kūkai himself. The impression of walking with Kūkai is reflected in the calligraphy that is brushed on the pilgrim’s clothing and hat, reading ‘Dōgyō ninin’ or ‘travelling together’. Travelling the full circuit was completed only by monks and religious practitioners until around 1600. In the Edo period (1615-1868), boats made the trip to Shikoku island much more accessible and as a result the pilgrimage became a popular pastime with many more lay people taking the route. Its popularity has remained intact or even grown in the present day. In one recent year, 150,000 people completed the pilgrimage. Currently local people support the pilgrims and often provide food and free lodging as part of their religious practice.
LaFleur, William, ‘Points of Departure: Comments on Religious Pilgrimage in Sri Lanka and Japan’, The Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 38, No. 2 (Feb., 1979), pp. 271-281
Pussel, Ryofu, A Critical Analysis of the Buddhist 88-Temple Pilgrimage on Shikoku Island, Japan, Xlibris Corporation, 2010.
Reader, Ian, Legends, Miracles, and Faith in Kōbō Daishi and the Shikoku Pilgrimage, chapter 34 in the book Religions of Japan in Practice, edited by George Tanabe, Jr., Princeton University Press, 1999
Reader, Ian, Making Pilgrimages: Meaning and Practice in Shikoku. University of Hawaii Press, 2006
Shimazaki, Hiroshi Tanaka, The Shikoku Pilgrimage: Essential Characteristics of a Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage Complex. Sacred Places, Sacred Spaces: The Geography of Pilgrimages, Robert Stoddard and Alan Morinis, editors, 1997.
Statler, Oliver, Japanese Pilgrimage. Pan Books, 1984.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2017-2018 2 Nov-8 Apr, BM Gallery 35, Living with gods
- Acquisition date
- Registration number