News On Japan

Triple Blessings for "Reverse Circuit" Pilgrims

SHIKOKU, Mar 01 (News On Japan) - Leap years bring a special tradition for pilgrims in Shikoku: completing the pilgrimage in reverse order, known as "Gyaku-uchi Henro," is believed to triple the blessings.

At Okubo-ji in Sanuki City, Kagawa Prefecture, the final temple of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, February 29th saw a lively crowd of pilgrims. One visitor from Marugame City, Kagawa, said, "I've come from Marugame City and I'm about to start my pilgrimage." Another from Fukuoka added, "I'm here for a reverse pilgrimage. Since it's a leap year, I chose to come on the 29th."

Typically, pilgrims visit the eighty-eight temples in numerical order, but during a leap year, they can opt for the reverse route, starting from the eighty-eighth temple, to potentially receive triple the spiritual benefits. The added significance of February 29th makes the journey even more special.

A pilgrim from Fukuoka shared, "It's once every four years, so I came on the 29th. I'm here to honor my grandparents and parents who have passed away and to pray for my own protection from misfortune." Another from Osaka said, "I prayed for my family's safety and my children's happiness. There's so much to wish for."

The increased blessings aren't just for the pilgrims; local souvenir shops are also seeing a boost in sales of pilgrimage essentials like robes and staffs. "We're hopeful, especially after the downturn due to the pandemic. We'd like to see more reverse pilgrims," said a shop owner.

Travel agencies are capitalizing on the trend, promoting reverse pilgrimage tours more prominently this year. It seems the reverse route will attract even more pilgrims to Shikoku.

Source: MBS NEWS

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