Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

9. Buddhist-style Pilgrimage with Shinto Meanings

Exploring Shinto - Michael Pye

Michael Pye [+-]
Marburg University (Emeritus) and Ōtani University
Michael Pye (born 1939) first resided in Japan from 1961 onwards. From 1968 he taught Religious Studies in England and, in 1982, became professor for the Study of Religions at Marburg University, Germany. On retirement he returned to Japan for several years, being associated with Ōtani University, Kyōto. He was president of the International Association for the History of Religions from 1995 to 2000 and is currently President of the International Shinto Studies Association. His major publications include Skilful Means (1978 and 2003), Strategies in the Study of Religions (2013) and Japanese Buddhist Pilgrimage (2015).


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. 173-185 Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781799604. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39489. Date accessed: 04 Dec 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39489. Jul 2020

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