Ian Reader and John ShultzDec 22, 2021
Pilgrims Until We Die
Unending Pilgrimage in Shikoku
Oxford University Press, USA 2021
Ian Reader and John Shultz's Pilgrims Until We Die: Unending Pilgrimage in Shikoku (Oxford University Press, 2021)" explores the Shikoku pilgrimage by focusing on the themes of repetition and perpetual pilgrimage. Reader and Shultz employ a wide array of methods to portray how these itinerant pilgrims view their unending life on the trails. Some spend most of their life walking the pilgrimage, while others use cars and other methods of modern transportation, allowing them to complete the circuit hundreds of times. The Shikokubyō or the Shikoku illness is a common term that people use to describe a sense of addiction to the pilgrimage, revealing how the pilgrimage has become a part of their life. Based in extensive fieldwork this book shows that unending pilgrimage is the dominant theme of the Shikoku pilgrimage, and argues that this is not specific to Shikoku but found widely in global contexts, although it has barely been examined in studies of pilgrimage. It counteracts normative portrayals of pilgrimage as a transient activity involving temporarily leaving home to visit sacred places outside the everyday parameters of life; rather pilgrimage, for many participants, means creating a sense of home and permanence on the road. As such this book presents new theoretical perspectives on pilgrimage in general, along with rich ethnographic examples of pilgrimage practices in contemporary Japan.
Raditya Nuradi is a Phd student at Kyushu University. He works on religion and popular culture, particularly anime pilgrimages. He’s done fieldwork at Hitoyoshi city, Kumamoto prefecture.