KIKUSUI HENRO HOUSENojuku (sleeping outdoors)by Hiroshi Kushima
(translated by David C. Moreton)

The Significance of Sleeping Outdoors

Amongst walking pilgrims, there are those who attempt to sleep outdoors with the purpose of participating in a higher form of ascetic training. As well, there are those who want to save on accommodation costs. When Kukai traveled around Shikoku, sleeping outdoors would have been the main way, so if pilgrims want to attach the meaning of `a journey of ascetic training following the footsteps of Kobo Daishi` staying at lodging facilities is too extravagant and sleeping outdoors becomes something that should be done.

For walking pilgrims who wish to base their trip on sleeping outdoors after being refused accommodation by hearing, 'Sorry, we don't have any available rooms', should consider the following difficulties:

However, one good point is that one can walk as far as one wants not being bound by the conditions of geography or places of lodging.

Advice from experts

I do not have any experience to sleep outdoors however from others who have I have heard stories of difficulties in finding places to wash, to do laundry and to find places to sleep. I wish to include here some pieces of advice that were posted on the Let's Talk area between June and July, 1999 regarding "Pilgrims sleeping outside in the summer."

Ms. Noriko, July 9, 1999.

Mr. Kanrindô, July, 5, 1999.

Mr. Kanrindô, June 18, 1999.

Mr. Eikô, June 13, 1999.

Experiences of people who have slept outdoors

Sôgetsuan - Chisho's Homepage

This is the journal of Chisho T. (born 1974) from Gifu Prefecture who after going to Mt. Koya walked the Shikoku Pilgrimage route in 48 days.

Henro Diary

This is the journal of Koutei-san (born 1972)who walked the pilgrimage between March 17 and the end of April in 1999.

Warnings for the Use of Buildings (added January 28, 2001)

Sleeping outdoors does not have to mean camping. It is possible to spend the night in such places as small huts on the grounds of temples and shrines, bus stop huts, train stations and under the roof of storage huts. When using such places it is necessary to get the permission of the person in charge. However, if such a person is not available, one should to talk with the local people who live nearby.

According the magazine "Shikoku Henro" it seems that "repetitively at each sacred site in the past, sacred object have been destroyed by fire caused by fire coming from the Odo (temple hut) where a pilgrim was staying the night." Thus pilgrims should avoid making fires, cooking and smoking at such places.

Nothing is gained by Sleeping Outdoors

I would like to tell you of some important opinions about sleeping outside. The actor, Hagihara Kenichi who had completed 2.5 pilgrimages said, "One must not just sleep outside. Fatigue will carry on to the next day and as a result; one will end up being a bother to other people."

Of course, it is clear that the conditions will be different according to outdoor experience, strength, age and gender. However, sleeping outdoors while on the pilgrimage does not mean that one will have designated places such as camping grounds to use. As well, one must be fully aware that such this will continue for days on end. Just like the comment from Ishihara-san it might be good to practice sleeping outside for one night beforehand.

If you do not mind sleeping outdoors, try someone else's advice to try the practical way of sleeping outdoors some nights and then sometimes sleeping at a paid lodging facilities to allow for proper rest, to do the laundry and to have a bath.

Women and Sleeping Outdoors (added May 13, 2002)

In the past, there have been women walking the route who have slept outdoors, however, in the past few years, the conditions for pilgrims have changed and so in the present day, I cannot recommend that women do this. Some people have being taking advantage of the special characteristic of pilgrims to believe people and are conducting criminal acts against walking women. As well, there are those who should not be trusted despite them wearing the garb of a pilgrim or a priest.

There are various conditions to sleeping outdoors and it might be excessive to necessarily deny such an idea, however, I would like one to plan being aware that "There are no guarantees that one will be safe as a Shikoku pilgrim. In fact, there are those that take advantage of pilgrims."

(translated by David C. Moreton)

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