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A Pilgrim’s Book Dating from 1802: 88 Temple Pilgrimage

Written on March 19, 2010

Japan in the late Edo Period (1603-1868) is a far cry from the Japan of today.  Enduring  in modern Japan, however, are traditional pilgrimage circuits where the faithful follow a prescribed course and make their way to a set of distinguished Buddhist temples: the reason I bring up the Edo Period is that this shuin-cho, or pilgrim’s stamp book, dates to 1802.
HonMap1This book was taken by a pilgrim as he or she circumambulated the island of Shikoku, visiting 88 temples sacred to the renowned Buddhist monk and scholar Kukai (774-835), who brought the Shingon Sect of Esoteric Buddhism to Japan from China.

HonMap1aAbove you will see a partial map of the route, and below you will see the cinnabar stamps received by the pilgrim from a priest at the temple: the priest will also write the name of the temple, and, at times, the date of the visit.HonMap1b


HonMap1dIt is really impressive that this book has survived over 200 years of history in Japan, some of the recent events of last century being quite devastating, as is universally known.HonMap1e

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  1. Comment by velma bolyard:

    beautiful, i really like how the images show throught the translucent pages. and the map, even if you didn’t know the context you’d know it was japanese. something about the line quality

    March 21, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  2. Comment by Don:

    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing book, Oh to be able to have the original owner read, or share their thoughts from just one page. It arises so many questions but so little time.

    March 24, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

  3. Comment by lancerika:

    what a magnificent relic from the past!
    would love to touch it and see every single little detail..
    LoVeLy Art!
    thanks for sharing..

    April 2, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  4. Comment by Beatrice McClelland:

    These books are stunning!

    April 2, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

  5. Comment by Jill O'Brien:

    Stephen – the work is unbelievable and will make the new owner so very happy! Thank you!

    July 5, 2011 @ 2:46 pm