Photo of Nandina (a member of the bamboo family) in the early morning frost taken by Laurie Hedger

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Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage
900 Miles to Enlightenment
Amy Chavez
"The goal of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage is enlightenment. For over 1,200 years, Japanese people have donned the pilgrim robes and have walked the route to the 88 sacred sites. These people are called henro, or pilgrims.

People go on pilgrimage to seek miracle cures for illness, find solutions to problems and, in these modern times, just to join a tour group. By bus, the entire pilgrimage can be completed in ten days. It is something Japanese plan to do later in life after they retire. The only Japanese interested in the hardships of the pilgrimage on foot are young people who happen to have time off --and you need to be fairly fit to complete the route walking.

The author says, "Running the Shikoku Pilgrimage" is an account of my marathon pilgrimage to the 88 sacred places of Shikoku. As a university English teacher and recreational jogger, I left on my pilgrimage in March of 1998 with the goal of running 900 miles, equal to running from San Diego, California to Oregon, over a five-week period.

There are few resources in English about this Shingon Buddhist pilgrimage--and even today, it is not very well known outside of Japan. In 1998 it was truly journeying into the unknown with information only handed down from those who had done it.

It was, in every way, a time of discovery.

The intended audience is vast including those interested in running, Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism, Kukai (774-835 A.D., the founder of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism in Japan) aka Kobo Daishi), The Shikoku 88-Temple Pilgrimage, and Japan. Shikoku has the Pacific Ocean to the East and the Inland Sea to the West. It is one of Japanís four main islands. Shiraishi Island is a little known island in the Seto Inland Sea.

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