9. Buddhist-style Pilgrimage with "Shinto" Meanings

Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

Michael Pye [+-]
Marburg University (Emeritus) and Ōtani University
Michael Pye is Professor (emeritus) of religious studies at Marburg University and a visiting Research Associate of Ōtani University in Kyōto. He is currently the president of the International Shinto Studies Association.His writings have ranged widely over problems in the study of religions, studies in Buddhist thought and many aspects of contemporary Japanese religion. His major publications include Skilful Means and Emerging from Meditation.


Circulatory pilgrimage to multiple sites (o-meguri お巡り) was first developed in Japan in the context of Buddhist devotions, notably at 33 sites in western Japan dedicated to the Bodhisattva Kannon. In Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage (Pye 2015) it was shown how the idea of o-meguri was transferred to the context of Shintō, partly due to the popularity of the intermediate Seven Gods of Good Fortune. In this paper two leading cases of circulatory pilgrimage within the Shinto world are explored: one around 25 places where reverence is paid to the god of learning, Sugawara Michizane, concluding with Kitano Tenmangū in Kyoto, and the other which includes no less than 125 sites at Ise. Neither of these pilgrimages bears any Buddhist meaning. The Michizane shrines provide a religious focusing of scholastic or academic ambition. At Ise the main point lies in the purification of the individual’s heart or mind, and in the strengthening of one’s identity in a shared national orientation. The older idea of o-Ise-mairi remains relevant in so far as visits to these many sites are all regarded as referring to one single goal, the Jingū.

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Pye, Michael. 9. Buddhist-style Pilgrimage with "Shinto" Meanings. Exploring Shinto. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Aug 2020. ISBN 9781781799604. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39489. Date accessed: 31 May 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39489. Aug 2020

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