14Nov10: David Moreton

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DSCF1599.JPGThoughts and Impressions about the 6th Henro Walk - November 14, 2010
              First of all I would like to thank the organizers for allowing me to join this event and to offer a brief talk to everyone about my research and activities related to the Shikoku pilgrimage. With my daily work, family life and various academic projects, I am not able to get out into the field and experience the pilgrimage as often as I would like, so it was great to be able to participate with everyone today. Seven years ago I visited Temples 80, 81 and 82 by car, but this was my first time to walk from one temple to the other. All went well until I hit the steep "henrogorogashi" (lit. pilgrim fall down) part on the way leading up to Temple 81 and I was quickly reminded of how arduous the path can be. But once I got to the top, I could really enjoy the rest of the journey through the tranquil forests.
              Throughout the day I was often reminded of a comment made by Oliver Statler, author of Japanese Pilgrimage, about forty years ago when he made the Shikoku pilgrimage. He said that the temples do not make up the pilgrimage, they only punctuate it. I would agree and I was saddened when we approached the temples because I was thrown back into the "real" world of noise and traffic of humans and vehicles. It was surprising to see the parking lots full of cars and buses, but this clearly proved that visiting one or a few of the temples along the Shikoku pilgrimage is a popular weekend pastime. At Temple 82 there was also a bustling atmosphere with many visitors wandering around the temple grounds, but I am grateful to the assistant head priest who spoke to our group and offered us a unique chance to learn about details of the temple that we could not have known by just looking around.
              Unfortunately the time went by too fast and our brief pilgrimage quickly came to a close. I reached my car to head home and found it hard to strip myself of the pilgrim attire and return to the "real" world. A few years ago I wrote, "The Shikoku pilgrimage is a journey of the soul - a time to think, a time to focus on oneself, a time to forget the world from which you came, a time to selflessly support and encourage each other, a time to learn to be grateful, a time that will you will remember forever." And I still believe so today. I eagerly look forward to when I can return to the wonderful world of this pilgrimage either by myself or by participating in an event similar to this one.
David C. Moreton



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