The Walking Style of Pilgrims
The white robes represent a shroud and the stick represents a gravestone, demonstrating the pilgrim's determination to walk the pilgrimage even at the cost of their life. Pilgrims on the route are said to walk together with Kukai. He protects pilgrims and shares their struggles. The pilgrim's walking stick is also said to represent Kukai's body. Around Shikoku, pilgrims walking the roads are a frequent sight. The complete circuit is around 1,400 kilometers long. On average, it takes about a month or 2 to complete the route.
Pilgrims Come from Around the World
Recently, the Shikoku Pilgrimage has become increasingly well-known overseas. Local people often extend warm hospitality to the pilgrims, a practice known as "osettai." Pilgrims are seen as welcome guests who walk together with Kukai - that's why they are treated to gifts. Each pilgrim is making the pilgrimage by oneself, but many caring hearts support them throughout their journey.
Under the Sky and by the Sea
This sacred place is at the southern end of Cape Muroto. As a young man, Kukai trained here. This cave, known as Mikurodo, is said to be where he found enlightenment. Some say that "Kukai" took his name while living here. "Ku" means sky and "kai" means ocean in Chinese characters. During his solitary practice at the cave, he was struck by the vast sky and ocean that spread before him. That is where he got his inspiration for his name, some say.