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Orei mairi

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What is "orei-mairi?"

The fundamental part of the Shikoku pilgrimage is to go to and worship at each of the 88 temples, however, an additional element is to do orei- mairi.

However, there are no strict definitions and some confusion regarding this, so I will tell you of the present state of discussion on this. The word orei-mairi despite being only a general phrase has different meanings for different people.

Worshiping at the first temple

After completing the pilgrimage around the 88 temples, it is custom to worship again at the temple or place where one started the journey and express one's feelings of gratitude and offer a report that the journey has been safely completed. Most people begin their pilgrimage from Temple 1, Ryozenji in Tokushima Prefecture so after finishing at Temple 88, that person goes to Temple for orei-mairi.

However, because there is no problem to commence the pilgrimage from a place most convenient from home, for example a person starting at Temple 51 would finish at Temple 50, orei-mairi would be done at Temple 51.

    Stamp Book
    Stamp Book with the page
    for revisiting the 1st visited temple

In the book "Shikoku Henro Hitori Aruki Dogyo Ninin" published by the Pilgrim Path Preservation Cooperative Association, the meaning for orei-mairi is given, however the custom of going back to Temple 1 after finishing the pilgrimage became the standard way only after World War II.

As well, in the present day there are many few people, who after finishing at Temple 88 presenting the hat and staff that they used on the trip, then return home.

In the stamp book sold at Temple 1, Ryozenji there is a page that says, "Mangan Orei-Mairi - the first temple" which demonstrates that this kind of orei-mairi, which is going back to Temple 1, is recognized.

The distance between Temple 88 and Temple 1 is about 40 kilometers and will take 1-2 days to do orei-mairi.

A popular course is drop by at Temple 10, Kirihataji and from there go in reverse order to Temple 1.

During my first pilgrimage, I did this. When one does the pilgrimage in reverse revisiting each of the temples from early in the trip, I feel like the first part of my pilgrimage is being rewound and played over after.

New pilgrims who are nervous and clothed in the brand new white garb on the other side of the street are just like I was when I started out and I felt that I was full of deep emotion.

Since orei-mairi of going back to the temple where one started the journey became standard it has been reflected in the stamp book or the ingenious way the stamp books has been made have helped to spread this custom, but the truth regards this is unclear.

Regarding the orei-mairi of "going back to the first temple" has been said by people at temples "The way the stamp book is made at Temple 1, Ryozenji is just a gimmick to get twice the amount of money for the stamp book so there is absolutely no significance of doing this kind of orei mairi."

It is certain that the historical or religious evidence for this is unclear and perhaps it is not something that needs to be done.

However, to the walking pilgrim, I think it is a style that has some meaning.

The ways of a pilgrim have not been decided by the temples but are something that has emerged between the pilgrims and the local people. I, as one pilgrim, would like to recommend doing this.

Going to Mt. Koya

Becoming a Shikoku pilgrim is a journey that follows the footsteps of Kobo Daishi so there are many people who also go to worship at Mt Koya after finishing the pilgrimage.

With the meaning of reporting the safe completion of visiting each of the 88 temples and while as conveying one's gratitude, it is natural is call this orei mairi.


Choishimichi at Mt. Koya

However it is said to be proper to worship at Mt. Koya before starting the trip.

This logic comes from the saying 'A journey of traveling together with Kobo Daishi' so one should visit Mt. Koya and visit Kobo Daishi and join with him before crossing to Shikoku.

Clearly when one opens the stamp book the very first page is for Mt. Koya, so perhaps this is the true way of being a pilgrim.

However, despite saying this it depends on the strength of one's attitude when beginning the journey as a Shikoku pilgrim.

Yet most walking pilgrims have in mind to start from Temple 1 and from the thought of "I want to focus on finishing" which emerges as they continue around, I think that most start to feel that "after I finish I will go to Mt. Koya."

If one wants to stop after finishing the journey then one can choose the earlier mentioned "going to the temple from which one started at" or not and I don't think there are difficulties psychologically.

It seems that there are many people who use public transportation from Temple 88 or Temple 1 and proceed onto Mt. Koya on the same day.

However, there are some who walk from Shikoku to Mt. Koya. From Temple 1, Ryozenji they walk to Tokushima port, take the ferry to Wakayama and then walk to Mt. Koya.

One can walk the well-developed 24 kilometer old pilgrim path called Choishimichi from the temple Jizonin which is said to be the "Women's Koya" which is close to Kyudosan station on the Nanakai Koya line.

Going around again

Actually according the Shikoku 88 Sacred Sites Association Shikoku Hachijuhachikasho Reijokai) the two ways of orei mairi mentioned above are not correct.

The formal interpretation is that orei mairi is someone who has completed the pilgrimage once and decides to do it again. Refer to: "Shikoku Henro - Living Today - Michishirube."

However for those with a lot or little devotion amongst the present day walking pilgrims, I think that there are many who are simply looking for 'benefits in this world' (gense riyaku).

One cannot simply label the first pilgrimage to be one of 'wishes' and the second one of 'gratitude.'

Is it not usual to become full of gratitude during one's first pilgrimage?

That is the case in my diary of my first pilgrimage because there are repeated entries that end with the words, "Thank you."

Within this meaning, the second or third pilgrimage will increasingly become more of 'receiving kindness' and one will not feel there is an end to 'orei' or giving thanks.

So, it is my honest impression that I, as a modern day walking pilgrim, cannot really feel the reality within in the 'official interpretation by the Reijokai.'


There are some amongst the personnel at the temples that insist that the first theory of "the tendency to participate in orei mairi to Temple 1 is something that has started recently."

However, this differs with reality.

In the book, "Iwanami Shashin Bunko 176 Shikoku Henro" published in 1956, it states on page 62, "It is normal procedure for pilgrims who finished the pilgrimage at Temple 88, Okuboji to present their staff, however if one has a heart to once again do the pilgrimage it is possible to take it home as a memorial.

And those who wish to rejoice in safely completing the pilgrimage and who will go to Temple 1 for 'orei-mairi' and who will visit Mt. Koya, it is possible finish here."

Later, Ito En'ichi in "Shikoku Henro" (the record of his segment pilgrimage between 1970-1972) has the following (p. 162):

"The end of the long journey finishes here.

Since olden times, it has been custom to after visiting Temple 88 to go to Temple 10, Kirihataji and proceed in reverse order and orei mairi at Temple 1, Ryozenji and afterwards to visit Mt. Koya."

By the way, the author of this book did not go on orei mairi however from the phrase 'since olden times' it becomes clear that at least pilgrims had such a choice and it can be presumed that some of them did it this way.

Two years later in 1974, Kiyoyoshi Eitoku who walked the pilgrimage after visiting Temple 88 went to Temple 1 via Temple 10 and then visited Mt. Koya.

As well in 1988, Tazaki in her book, "Musume Henro" of her pilgrimage writes that after finishing at Temple 88, she rather naturally proceeded to Temple 1, Ryozenji for 'orei-mairi' and also went to Mt. Koya.

On the other hand, this does not mean that there are no examples proving the Reijokai's interpretation that the second pilgrimage is one of orei-mairi. In the book, "Henronikki - Kotsujiki Angya Sanbyakuri" from 1961 which records the walking pilgrimage of Kagita Chuzaburo states, "after finishing the pilgrimage at Temple 88, Okuboji I went home by car right away.

However, my body, which was deemed by doctor to last only two months, returned to a healthy state due to being a walking pilgrim. I was thankful for this and afterwards decided to again participate in the orei-mairi to the 88 sites." (p. 1)

As shown above, it is clear that these three types of orei-mairi have at least been passed on during the past few decades.

How about before the war? In the book, "Shikoku Henro no Susume" written by Yasuda Keimi in 1931 he writes that, "It is normal to do the Shikoku pilgrimage by starting at Toji Temple in Kyoto and finishing at Mt. Koya." (p. 37).

However, as a model plan from Tokyo there is an explanation of a direct course to Osaka port by boat from Tokyo, there does not seem to be a preference for Kyoto's Toji temple.

In the section (p. 75-76) after finishing the pilgrimage at Temple 88 there is a line which reads, "those who go to visit Mt. Koya" which shows that Mt. Koya was treated as one option.

There are references about doing orei mairi to Temple 1.

It is too much to make inferences from only these highlighted points, however it can be imagined that before World War II that the notion of "doing orei-mairi to the first temple" did not exist.

Only during the 1950s did it become widely accepted and has continued until the present day. It is clear that this way of doing orei mairi is not 'something that began a few years ago.'


Putting aside the discussion as to the legitimacy as of the various types of orei mairi it is apparent that depending how one expresses orei mairi that there is ambiguity about it along the Shikoku Pilgrimage route as seen the examples mentioned earlier.

In order to avoid misunderstanding it might be appropriate to express it by saying "Go to give thanks at the temple you started at" or "Visit Mt. Koya" or "Do the pilgrimage again in order to show gratitude."

It is meaningless for pilgrims to be caught up in the jealousy amongst temples.

I think that each of the three styles mentioned above have their own significance.

I don't think it is necessary to consider them like an essential subject lured by the word orei mairi.

If you think that such definitions are acceptable, than that is fine.

I think that it is completely acceptable to finish your pilgrimage at Temple 88 after visiting all the 88 sacred sites.

As well, the concept of visiting Mt. Koya much later after finishing one's pilgrimage is possible as well as to go to another temple which is more memorable to them and not 'the first temple they started at.'

I apologize for always ending with the same conclusion but I would like to point out that all people are different.