Kamakura Pilgrimages

Kamakura is a small town in size with less than 40 square kilometers and yet there are several pilgrimages for the devout to make a circuit of the designated temples. Visiting those temples one by one and worshiping Buddha statues, they sought divine favors. Often, their wishes were met and more people joined those itinerant worshipers. In ancient days, there were no cars, buses, or trains, pilgrims had no choice but to complete their rounds on foot, which must have made them healthy at least. They believed the health was given to them by divine favor. Today's pilgrims, however, often use cars, buses or other transportation modes. As a result, good health is not always with them and pilgrimages are becoming less popular. The following are the pilgrimages in Kamakura:

shichifukujinPilgrimage to the Shichifukujin {she-chee-foo-koo-gin}, the Seven Deities of Good Fortune (a Group of Seven), which have the following temples or shrines.

Thirty-Three Kan'non Pilgrimage

According to the Lotus Sutra, Kan'non has 33 transformations in order to perform his task of salvation. Though Kamakura does not have all 33 forms of Kan'non statue, there are 33 old and famed temples sacred to Kan'non. It has long been believed that visiting these temples in order is an act of great merit. The following is the order of the Kamakura Thirty-Three Kan'non Pilgrimage:

Order Temple Type of Kan'non
1 Sugimoto-dera Eleven-Headed
2 Hokaiji Jundei
3 An-yo-in Thousand-Armed
4 Hase-dera Eleven-Headed
5 Raikoji (Nishi-mikado) Nyoirin
6 Zuisenji Thousand-Armed
7 Kosokuji (Juniso) Sho
8 Myo-o-in Eleven-Headed
9 Jomyoji Sho
10 Hokokuji Sho
11 Enmeiji Sho
12 Kyo-onji Sho
13 Betsuganji Gyoran
14 Raikoji (Zaimokuza) Sho
15 Kofukuji Sho
16 Kuonji Sho
17 Fudarakuji Eleven-Headed
18 Komyoji Nyoirin
19 Renjo-in (Komyoji) Eleven-Headed
20 Senju-in (Komyoji) Thousand-Armed
21 Joju-in Sho
22 Gokurakuji Nyoirin
23 Kotoku-in Sho
24 Jufukuji Eleven-Headed
25 Jokomyoji Thousand-Armed
26 Kaizoji Eleven-Headed
27 Myoko-in (Kenchoji) Sho
28 Kenchoji Thousand-Armed
29 Ryuho-in (Kenchoji) Sho
30 Meigetsu-in Sho
31 Jochiji Sho
32 Tokeiji Sho
33 Butsunichi-an (Engakuji) Eleven-Headed

Sugimoto-dera is also the starting point of the Thirty-Three Kan'non Pilgrimage of Bando covering Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures.

Twenty-Four Jizo Pilgrimage

Records show that the Kamakura Twenty-Four Jizo Pilgrimage had existed in 1725. With the decline of Buddhism, however, the Pilgrimage gradually became obsolete, especially after the Meiji Imperial Restoration of 1868. After Shinto was designated as the state religion, many of the Buddha statues were thrown away, destroyed or just disappeared. In 1901, Jizo worshipers checked how many Jizo statues were extant and confirmed there were 24. To promote worship for Jizo, Buddhist groups reinstated this round of pilgrimage same year. Most of them are located in the city of Kamakura, but a few will be found in the outskirts of the city.

Order Temple Alias
1 Hokaiji Tofutu-Jizo
2 Raikoji Ganjo Jizo
3 Kakuonji Kuro-Jizo (Black Jizo)
4 Sugimoto-dera Migawari-Jizo
5 Kosokuji (Juniso) Shioname-Jizo (Salt-licking Jizo)
6 Sugimoto-dera (See below)
7 Zuisenji Dokomoku-Jizo
8 En'noji
9 Kenchoji Shinpei-Jizo (Main Hall)
10 Kenchoji Saita-Jizo (Main Hall)
11 Kenchoji Shojoken-Jizo (Near Hansobo)
12 Jochiji
13 Engakuji (Shozoku-in)
14 Engakuji Yagara-Jizo(at Keisho-an)
15 Iwafune-Jizo (Near Kaizoji)
16 Jokomyoji Abiki-Jizo
17 Jokomyoji Yahiroi-Jizo
18 Jufukuji (Kept at the Kamakura Museum)
19 Tozenji In Yokosuka city
20 (Gokurakuji) Michibiki Jizo
21 (Gokurakuji) Hikage Jizo
22 Komyoji Enmei-Jizo
23 Enmeiji Migawari-Jizo
24 An-yo-in Higiri-Jizo

Sugimoto-dera has two Jizo statues. A wooden statue enshrined in the main hall and the other is a stone statue placed open-air in the courtyard.

The statue of Yagara-Jizo at Engakuji is no longer extant as it was destroyed by the 1923 earthquake. Only a stone monument stands in the courtyard of Keisho-an, Engakuji. Yagara means an arrow and the story behind this Jizo relate to a samurai called Gongoro Kamakura. During a fierce battle in late 11th century, his left eye was shot by an enemy's arrow. Without being daunted at all, he continued the fight and came back to the camp with the arrow still in his eye. To pay homage to his braveness, a Jizo statue was carved as his guardian deity. See Goryo Jinja.

Kenchoji has three Jizo statues which are on the list of the Jizo Pilgrimage. Since no literatures clarified exactly where those statues are enshrined, I wrote a letter to the Education Department of this temple enclosing a self-addressed envelop and a postage stamp. Ten day later, I received their reply, which said that Saita Jizo is enshrined in the body of Jizo Bosatsu Statue, the main object of worship at Kenchoji, and Shinpeiji Jizo at the right-hand side of the main hall surrounded by miniature Jizo statues.

Six Amida (Amitabha) Pilgrimage

Order Temple
1 Hase-dera
2 Kotokuin (Great Buddha)
3 Komyoji
4 Jokomyoji
5 Hokaiji
6 Kosokuji (juniso)

Pilgrims usually carry a seal-book and have the custodians of the temples stamp its seal on the book as a proof of their visit.