The 88 Scared Places of Shikoku Pilgrimage is probably the most famous pilgrimage in Japan. The route circles the island of Shikoku and takes about 45–60 days to complete on foot, although there are other ways pilgrims choose to travel. Naomi and I had the great fortune to walk this path three times. This year we will be publishing our experience of this remarkable journey.
These pilgrims are praying at the Daishi hall of Ryõzenji, temple number one. The four characters on the back of the hat (同行二人) are the refrain of the pilgrim—Dõgyõ ninin. Simply translated it means the same journey, two people. The second person to which it refers is Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, saint, poet, calligrapher, civil engineer, and the person credited in making this pilgrimage. While the pilgrimage is nonsectarian, every pilgrim puts their faith in O-Daishi-sama, as he is known.