KIKUSUI HENRO HOUSEKugiri-uchi (Doing the pilgrimage in segments)by Hiroshi Kushima
(translated by David C. Moreton)

What is Kugiri-uchi?

Breaking up your pilgrimage to the 88-temples along the Shikoku pilgrimage route into segments is called kugiri-uchi compared with doing the entire route at one time which is called tooshi-uchi.

During the times, when public transportation was not available it was not realistic to do kugiri-uchi, however, today, it is possible to get to Shikoku within one day from any part of Japan. Thus it is now possible for anyone to be able to become a walking pilgrim by participating in this method.

It is clearly very difficult for people who have jobs and families to leave them for several weeks and become a Shikoku pilgrim; however, if one can do a part of the route over several one-week holidays, there will be no difference as going overseas on numerous occasions.

Some have the opinion that "a true pilgrim is one who walks the entire route at one time." However, after walking for about one week and then deciding whether to continue walking allows anyone to try the experience of being a Shikoku pilgrim and thus, this method is generally accepted.

Actually, I have not been able to participate on tooshi-uchi because I am employed full-time. By using holidays in May and during the summer, I took around seven days off and completed the pilgrimage over three years and six occasions. Even the "kugiri-uchi" method allows one to fully experience being a Shikoku pilgrim. However, I am looking forward to being able to someday complete the pilgrimage the other way.

Ways of Kugiri

For the first segment one can go from Temples 1 to 19, and for the second segment from Temples 19-23. It is a rule that one commences the route from the place when one finished so in this way, one will worship at one temple twice. At the end of one trip one gives thanks for the many things that have happened during the journey and at the start of a new trip, one expresses onefs determination and prays for a safe journey. The stamp book will be stamped twice, however, on the second time, receive the kasanein (duplicate stamping: refer to nôkyô).

By participating in the kugiri-uchi method, one should choose temples that are conveniently located to public transportation because one must return home from that place during the one trip and begin from that spot when one returns. When a JR station is not nearby, it might take up to half a day to reach the temple you stop the pilgrimage at. Most people who participate in the kugiri-uchi method do not have much time so much consideration needs to be taken in this matter.

If it is not possible to arrange transportation to return home, it might be necessary to make a kugiri (break) point at some point between two temples. In my case, I do not like the kasanein and because I had a problem with time so I worshipped at the temple from a distance and when I returned to the spot where I left off, I continued on my journey to the next temple. When looking at the walking journey I have not skipped any steps, however, when compared to the `true rules` of a pilgrim perhaps I am not following the correct method.

What is "Utsu?"

By the way, the word utsu comes from when pilgrims in the past conducted the pilgrimage by nailing wooden fuda (nameslips) on the temple Main Hall or Main Gate and thus, the concept of pilgrimaging has become to be called utsu. Nowadays, only the word remains and "hitting No. 1" is used. As well, using the same path to return and go to a temple is called uchimodoru and doing the pilgrimage in reverse order is called gyakuuchi.

(translated by David C. Moreton)

Glossary TOP Copyright (C)1999-2000 Hiroshi Kushima / (C)2004 David C. Moreton