KIKUSUI HENRO HOUSESugegasa (Hat)by Hiroshi Kushima
(translated by David C. Moreton)

The Effectiveness of the Hat

As it is said, "a pilgrimage is where one uses a staff and a hat", the hat has became a traditional part of the attire of a pilgrim. At the same time, it also has a great practical use to block the sun and rain. To a pilgrim, the Kongo staff is also a necessary part of the gear, however, on rainy days, one ends up holding the staff in the right hand and an umbrella in the left. This is not only very awkward, but dangerous. Thus, if one wears a hat there is no need to carry an umbrella. However, the hat is not as wide as an umbrella, thus it is necessary to wear a raincoat or some other form of rain gear.

Usually, the clothing of a pilgrim is white, however, when one wears a knapsack, it becomes difficult to see from the back the white attire. A hat, on the other hand, is easy to spot and in a way acts as marker saying, gHere is a pilgrim."

On the hat, some phrases from a sutra are written in Chinese characters. As well, in front there is a Sanskrit character representing Kobo Daishi and on the back, there is "Dogyo ninin" which means one is walking with Kobo Daishi. The staff that one uses represents the transformed book of him. In other words, the essence of a pilgrim is in actuality, "walking by oneself."

How to use the hat

After buying a hat, it is good to change the string with a stronger type. In most cases, a weak string is attached, so it will most likely blow off when a strong wind blows or large trucks pass you on the road.

The Sanskrit mark should be placed facing forward. I put my hat on after wrapping a towel around my head. I do this to avoid the ring of the hat rubbing against my head and to allow the hat to sit better on my head.

(translated by David C. Moreton)

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