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Title: Contemporary pilgrims' understanding of the Shikoku pilgrimage, with particular reference to the role of Kobo Daishi
Author: Pussel, Ryofu Rolf
ISNI:       0000 0004 2714 5613
Awarding Body: University of Sunderland
Current Institution: University of Sunderland
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis analyses how contemporary pilgrims understand the 88-temple-Shikoku pilgrimage, and in particular what role Kōbō Daishi plays in their outlook and practices. The particular issue that this research addresses is that while Kōbō Daishi figures large in many of the popular presentations of the pilgrimage (in guidebooks, TV programmes, and in temple pamphlets), there is a question of what role he actually plays in the outlook and practices of contemporary pilgrims. The thesis therefore highlights the ways in which ‘Kōbō Daishi’ figures in the views and behaviour of pilgrims and those who support them: the various roles ‘Kōbō Daishi’ plays, and how these relate together, and to other themes and aspects of the pilgrimage, as well as pointing out aspects of the pilgrimage that are not focussed on Kōbō Daishi. In other words, how contemporary pilgrims make meaning of the pilgrimage and, in particular, Kōbō Daishi’s place in this. Looking at the position of Kōbō Daishi and the legendary construction of the pilgrimage in the minds of the informants, it becomes clear that in their views, the ‘real history’ of the pilgrimage is not important compared to the legendary one centred on Kōbō Daishi, and this is seen in their adherence to legends and stories relating to him. Quantitative and qualitative research was conducted, including brief surveys and in-depth interactions with pilgrims, pilgrimage guides, those that give out alms, and temple officials to analyse contemporary pilgrims’ understanding of the ‘sacred’ foci of the pilgrimage: Kōbō Daishi and his possible role in the Shikoku pilgrimage and its origin, with related issues of meaning-making, such as the Daishi-faith, Kōbō Daishi-tales, the various deities whose images are enshrined in the temples, Shinto and Buddhism and related rituals and the role that Kōbō Daishi is seen to have in pilgrims’ thoughts about ‘religion’, pilgrimage items and related ritual behaviour, experiential aspects of the pilgrimage, people’s motives for doing the pilgrimage, their understanding of Kōbō Daishi’s role in healing, how he is seen as accompanying dead ancestors as well as the present pilgrims and aiding in communication of the living with the dead, etc. This research provides a useful window on how contemporary people relate to the pilgrimage, and a better general understanding of contemporary Japanese cultural practices and the world they live in, and how they seek to achieve well-being and happiness. Four appendixes and an extensive glossary round off this thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Religion and Philosophy