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Sacred and Pilgrimage Sites

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Sacred and Pilgrimage Sites

The sacred and pilgrimage sites in Japan have played important roles in shaping the religious aspects of the culture. The countryside of the nation is 80 percent mountainous and has inspired religious practices involving trekking through the hilly terrain. People of the past saw mountains as deities and created shrines that are said to enshrine their spirit. Later on when Buddhism was introduced to Japan the belief started to meld together to create another perspective on the spirits in the country.

There are two types of pilgrimages you can experience. The first is reijo, which goes to sacred sites like the Kumano route of the Kii Peninsula. It visits the Three Grand Shrines that are connected by the hiking trails. The other one is junrei, which is a circuit type of pilgrimage. A good example is the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage route where travelers go to 88 individual temples.

The original purpose of these pilgrimages was to offer prayers to the many deities, bodhisattvas and Buddha(s). Hiking through the mountains to reach the religious sites invoke a sense of harmony with the surrounding nature and thus bringing you closer to the deities residing in the land. Today you can see monks dressed in white garbs trekking through the trails.

photo of sacred and pilgrimage sites

Sacred and Pilgrimage Sites in Japan

photo of Dewa Sanzan Pilgrimage

Tohoku | Yamagata | Dewa Sanzan

Dewa Sanzan Pilgrimage

Dewa Sanzan refers to three sacred mountains in Yamagata, which are Mt. Haguro, Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono.

photo of Nikko Pilgrimage

Kanto | Tochigi | Nikko

Nikko Pilgrimage

Nikko Pilgrimage Route is part of the Nikko National Park and is known as one of the top 100 places to view cherry blossoms.

photo of Mt. Hakusan

Chubu | Ishikawa | Kaga Onsen

Mt. Hakusan

Mount Hakusan is a 2702-meter-high dormant volcano and is one of the three most sacred mountains in Japan.

photo of Koyasan Pilgrimage

Kansai | Wakayama | Koyasan

Koyasan Pilgrimage

Koyasan is the center for an important Buddhist sect known as Shingon Buddhism. It is located on the forest covered mountain top of Mount Koya.

photo of Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route

Kansai | Wakayama | Kumano

Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route

The Kumano Kodo is a series of ancient pilgrimage routes located in Wakayama Prefecture, which in 2004 received the listing of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

photo of Shikoku Pilgrimage Route

Shikoku

Shikoku Pilgrimage Route

88 Hallowed Grounds of Shikoku – A Pilgrimage 1200 Years in the Making.