Saikoku’s 33 Temple Pilgrimage

“Saikoku sanjūsankasho hōgaku ezu” [西国三十三箇所方角繪圖] 1800 – By  Ōsakaya, Chōzaburō

The Historics

Pilgrimages have existed in Japan for more than a thousand years, many dating to the days of the Heian period [794-1185]. The most famous of Buddhist pilgrimages would be the Shikoku 88 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage which encircles the entire island of Shikoku, and is said to be the path that the great Kōbō-Daishi or Kūkai, the creator of Shingon Buddhism, once walked. Lesser known but just as important as the Shikoku 88, is the Saikoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage, the oldest Kannon pilgrimage in Japan and said to have been devised in 718 by the head priest known as Tokudo Shonin, who was a head priest at Hase-dera Temple in the Nara prefecture. In the Japanese Buddhist pilgrimages, the primary deity that is worshiped is Bodhisattva Kannon or Guanyin, “The Goddess of Mercy.” She is often depicted as a divine savior for those who are ready to pass onto the next life, by guiding them with one of her thousand arms.

This map, the “Saikoku sanjūsankasho hōgaku ezu” [西国三十三箇所方角繪圖] was created by Ōsakaya, Chōzaburō in 1800 and sold at Kokawa-dera Temple [粉河寺],  Kii Province [Wakayama Prefecture].

_DSC4940 - Copy

The map is a square [57.3 x 64.5 cm] mono colour woodblock print with some red colouration to help depict the main pilgrimage route which zig zag through 13 different provinces listed on the map. The map itself is generally an accurate depiction of the region, but it’s slightly distorted with some creative liberties taken to fit in all the information Chōzaburō wanted. The major cities are marked as a wide rectangle with the name within, most -prominently identifiable are Kyo [Kyoto], Osaka, Sakai, Nara, Ise, and Wakayama. On the roads between each toll station is a distance indicator called Ri [リ] , each Ri is 3.9 kilometers. The island of Shikoku where the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage takes place is indicated on the map with nautical distance and estimated time of travel by boat. The temples themselves are identified by the long narrow black rectangles which shows the temple number and name.


[京] for Kyoto「京都」written in the middle. Written above Kyoto is Yamashiro「山城」, One of the historical provinces of Japan before the prefecture system. 

This particular map was created at Kokawa-dera, the third temple on the Saikoku pilgrimage. The first temple on the pilgrimage is not actually Hase-dera Temple, where Tokudo Shonin was head priest at, but at Seiganto-ji [青岸渡寺] at the bottom of the Kii Peninsula. Aside from the most holy of places like Ise Jingu, Izumo Taisha, Kasuga Taisha, Mt. Hiei, Mt. Koya, Mt. Fuji, and etc., Seiganto-ji holds a special place within Japanese religion as one of the few places in Japan where Buddhism and Shinto amalgamate. Seiganto-ji was purposefully built near Nachi Falls, one of the most well-known waterfalls in Japan, and falls within the Kumano Sanzan complex where the famous Kumano Kodo pilgrimage takes place. As such, Seiganto-ji is listed on both the Saikoku 33 Pilgrimage, and the Kumano Kodo. Today, it is one of the few remaining Jingu-ji [Shrine Temple] still in existence after the forcible separation of Shinto and Buddhism operated by the Japanese government during the Meiji restoration.


#3 Kokawa-dera 「粉河寺」


#1 Seiganto-ji 「青岸渡寺」, written as Nachi Yama「なち山」, refers to the famous Nachi Falls which is within the Kumano Sanzan complex, the heart of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage.

The Questions

One of the few questions we should ask about maps are, “Is this map accurate?” and, “Are there any major information omitted?” As aforementioned, the map itself is quite accurate for the average pilgrim looking forward to doing the pilgrimage route. As for informational accuracy, nothing as far as temples and shrines are concerned. Informed by Professor Mari Fujita, from the School of Architecture and Landscape at UBC, some mapmakers deliberately omit information to pursue their own or political agenda. Therefore, maps are generally incomplete and highly selective of the content the mapmaker wants to disseminate. Although the Tendai [Mt. Hiei] and Shingon [Mt. Koya] schools of Buddhism share a rivalry, the temples of the Saikoku pilgrimage are of mixed affiliation, there would be no benefit for spreading misinformation among religious pilgrims, as such deeds would bring about bad karma in the eyes of Kannon. Observant viewers able to read and make out the map may notice that Mt. Koya is prominently visible on the map, but Mt. Hiei is buried away under small print, shouldn’t this suggest an agenda? I was assured by UBC sessional lecturer, Dr. Eiji Okawa Ph.D that this was not the case. He suggested that because this was a pilgrimage map, the finer details were not as important; pilgrims looking forward to visiting certain areas or Mt. Hiei should have no problem with more detailed maps of the Kyoto area. Okawa also praised the Saikoku map, calling it a “pragmatic map” for its audience and quality.

The Pilgrims

Another question we should ask is, “Who are Buddhist pilgrims, and what were their motivations to participate in pilgrimages?” A true Buddhist pilgrim is one who has casted his worldly desires aside and only lives within his means, wearing nothing but a white monk’s robe, a walking stick, a hat, prayer beads, and his belongings in a bundle from temple to temple on foot. Buddhist monks and priests generally live a simple lifestyle that did not involve much currency transaction, therefore much of their food and expenses were either earned with labour or alms. One of the many reasons why Buddhist pilgrims undertake a pilgrimage is to follow in the footsteps of their elders, famous priests, or personal salvation. Not all pilgrims who undertake the Saikoku pilgrimage are devout Buddhist, in many cases, many ordinary people undertake the pilgrimage to sight-see or to ask for healing of sickness, byouki-oroshi.


Modern day pilgrims at Mt. Koya, Source:

A pilgrimage route is also a place of friendship, many pilgrims enter travel relationships or camaraderie with others who are performing the same practice, this is called dōgyōsan. This aspect is particularly significant on a spiritual level on the Shikoku 88, where the pilgrims can identify with the great Kōbō-Daishi, and follow along in his footsteps, but this can easily be relatable to any famous figure who has walked the Saikoku 33. Examples of pilgrimage taking can be found in many Japanese literature classics and popular culture, one famous example is Matsuo Basho’s secular pilgrimage to the north with his companion Sora, in his book,  Oku no Hosomichi [奥の細道] or The Narrow Road to the Interior. Popular culture examples include Jippensha Ikku’s Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige [東海道中膝栗毛] or Shank’s Mare, depicting slackers Kita and Yaji leaving their shabby Edo home on a pilgrimage to Ise. Famous poet Ihara Saikaku also dabbled in stories about pilgrimages in his short stories, Kōshoku Gonin Onna [好色五人女] or Five Women Who Loved Love.


Statues of Yaji and Kita, Sanjo Ohashi, Kyoto. Source:

To embark on a pilgrimage is a scared charge for religious pilgrims but, for the secular folks, David C. Moreton and Katharine Merrill translating Alfred Bohner eloquently puts it as:

“Sometimes there comes moments in our lives when simply everything fails; when every undertaking, every plan, no matter how well thoughtout, miscarries; when what we had counted on as most secure is overturned; a farmer’s harvest fails; his ox is carried off by disease; thieves have broken in and stolen the best of what little is left; and in addition to all this misfortune the young married daughter is sent home by the family of the bridegroom for what seems no reason at all, making them the laughing-stock of the neighbours and acquaintences, and brining discord into the house, where everyone wants to charge someone else with the guilt of the unsuccessful union. In such cases many japanese reach for the poison, throw themselves onto the railroad track in front of a train, or cast themselves into the sea. Others however tie up their bundles, equip themselves as well or as poorly as their means allow, and set off on a pilgrimage.”

What these stories and the passage above have in common is a trend in Edo period pilgrimage taking called Nuke Mairi, which is a pilgrimage in defiance of edicts, employers, family, or authority; in short, its a decision thats made on a whim to just drop everything and leave. The former is called Okage Mairi, which are sporadic communally sponsored pilgrimages taken by members of family, groups, villages, and even towns, to [most often] the Grand Ise Shrine.


The township of Ise「いせ」is marked on the map in a bubble, with the Grand Shrines Naikū [内宮] and Gekū [外宮] slightly below.


A wooden Torii guards the Uji Bridge that spans the Isuzu River to enter Naikū [内宮], The bridge is torn down every 20 years, as are the Shrine buildings to keep Amaterasu-ōmikami’s lodgings pristine and new, never to show age.

Townsfolk and merchants along the way tended to welcome travelers and pilgrims so long as their numbers were not excessive- offering free food, lodging, sandals, or medicine. Custom held that Gods, Buddhas, and holy men occasionally traveled incognito; Kindness to a disguised holy man or deity as innumerable legends attest, brings good fortune. Such kindness found along the way made pilgrimages much easier in the Edo period, as monks and priests were given alms regularly and treated fairly well. Such entrepreneurial activities were favoured and encouraged by the temples, which helped designate touring routes through towns and cities that would lead the pilgrim to various places of worship other than the main temple. As a result of nuke and okage mairi, these local excursions were group social outings that combined pious acts with sightseeing, which provided pilgrims with a disruption from the tedium and restraint of quotidian life.

“Pragmatic Map”

After reviewing all the information written here thus far, it makes sense that Dr. Okawa would suggest that this is a “pragmatic map,” because it is.


Legend from left to right: Cities & towns, X , Ferries, Checkpoints/Lodging, Rural Roads, Main Roads, Pilgrimage Route, Castle Towns?, Province, and Shinto Shrines.


The main pilgrimage route that connects #1 Seiganto-ji 「青岸渡寺」to Ise Jingu. Displayed are the Ri distance markers, checkpoints/lodging, and physical descriptions of the route such as rivers and hills.

At first glance, judging by the title of the map and its purpose, it appears to be a simple map of the 33 temples, but it actually displays much more. Although Seiganto-ji is the 1st temple on the route, the route actually begins at Ise if one were to look closely at the route and its colouration. This means Ōsakaya Chōzaburō made this map not only for Buddhist pilgrims but secular pilgrims aswell. Pilgrims looking forward to undertake the Shikoku 88 pilgrimage or just visit Shikoku island are also provided with details as to where and how to catch a boat there.


The Island of Shikoku, showing a Shinto Shrine landmark, two castles, the 4 regions of the isle, and the boat route from Osaka.

The map does display interesting tidbits in finer detail, some that is useful and some that is not for the average pilgrim. In locating Himeji just above Shikoku, I noticed some fine print showing a Tenjin (天神) shrine, the Shinto kami of scholarship, the deification of a scholar, poet, and politician named Sugawara no Michizane, and information on how much the domain is worth in Koku [石, bushels of rice].


In fine print, we can make out the town of Himeji written as ひめぢ, strangely without an indicator that it’s a castle town. The domain is also rated at 150,000 Koku [十五万石]which is accurate according to historical data.


As Japan moved forward in the 18th and 19th century, so too did people’s aspirations and beliefs. As a by-product of these aspirations and beliefs, economies, civic infrastructure, religion, and private entrepreneurship flourished like never before, giving rise to one of the most sophisticated societies of its time. This map reflects that, as it guides secular and non-secular pilgrims around the region with reasonable accuracy and detail, remarkable for private maps produced at this scale and quality. Big enough to display the relevant information pertaining to the pilgrimage route, near-by towns, and landmarks, yet portable and cheap enough to be bought by passing or starting pilgrims at Kokawa-dera. It’s fascinating that researching this map some 200 years later would reveal so much details about the pilgrims, the pilgrimage route, the creator, and the state of Edo travel.

I would like to give thanks and acknowledgement to UBC – Rare books and Special Collections for obtaining and housing the Tokugawa maps; Professor Christina Laffin for hosting ASIA 453, the opportunity to conduct this research, and guidance in researching the maps; Dr. Eiji Okawa for helping me read and understand the map; and Professor Mari Fujita for her informative lecture on cartography.



Asahi.Net. “Kinki Region, Himeji”

Bohner, Alfred. Two on a Pilgrimage: The 88 Holy Places of Shikoku. Trans., Katherine Merrill. Ed. Moreton, David C., Outlook, Germany. 2011

Davis, Winston. Japanese Religion and Society: Paradigms of Structure and Change.
State University of New York, NY, 1992
Fujita Mari. “Cartography.” Lecture, University of British Columbia, 1 March, 2017
Hall, John Whitney., The Cambridge History of Japan: Volume 4, Early Modern Japan.
Cambridge University Press, NY, 1991.
Kasahara, Kazuo. Ed. A History of Japanese Religion. Trans., Paul McCarthy & Gaynor Sekimori
Kosei Publishing, Tokyo, 2001.
Okawa, Eiji. “Saikoku Pilgrimage.” Interview, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. 15 March, 2017
Reader, Ian. Making Pilgrimages: Meaning and Practice in Shikoku

University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2005.

Totman, Conrad. Early Modern Japan
University of California Press, 1993

Morooshi Kinmo zui No.6

Morokoshi Kinmo zui is an encyclopedia of China. The whole collection contains five books and 14 different categories, astronomy, geography, architecture, people, Martial arts, instruments, machines, agriculture, costumes, vegetation, wild animals, insects, world map and Chinese landscapes. Part number 6 to 8 of this encyclopedia describes Chinese people performing different types of martial arts and entertaining activities such as acrobatics. The book contains four sections. First one is from page 1 to page 4, presenting horsemanship and archery. The second part is from page 5 to page 13, displaying half naked men performing hand-form martial arts. The third part is from page 14 to page 31, showing people practicing weapons such as swords, shields, cudgels, and spears. Last part is from page 32 to page 40, almost each page contains a background with different hobbies of ordinary people, and some pictures contain performers who are performing acrobatics to attract and impress audiences.

The cover page is the index three books, from book six to book eight. From left to right, the Chinese characters saying: “卷之六 人事之部,” combining with the content, means book six is about people’s performance. Followed by “士農工賈__伎百戰類,” the fifth word is blurred due to the paper being exposed in the air for hundreds of years. However, this sentence means it is the category of free-hand combat skills; now we call it martial arts, which suits for people of each social class in Chinese society. Next category is “卷之七 器用之部,” means that book seven is displaying the purpose of tools and equipment. After that, the sentence “祭器樂器圭璋半斛類” explains that those tools and instruments are used for sacrificial ceremony, “圭璋” is one of them, as Figure 1 shows. They look like daggers made of white jade, people in ancient China believed those items could be used as a medium to communicate with their ancestors. Book eight has the same title as book seven, which is also “卷之八 器用之部分,” however, they are no longer sacrificial instruments. Book eight contains “舟車兵刃䋄罟筆研類,” which are tools such as cars, boats, weapons, finishing nets, writing brushes, ink stones.

I choose book six because I am interested in martial arts and the first page of the book states the prime principle of archery, the person is standing on the ground with his arms raising up gives audiences a basic knowledge of stance of Chinese archery. The Chinese characters and hiragana above the man show the instructions and matters need attention positioning the stance. Page 3 and 4 indicate the way of how Manchuria people use a bow while riding a horse, which is called “馬箭圖,” means pictures of horseback archery. Only page 2 are the details of how to use a bow when standing on the ground, which is called “射法圖,” means pictures of the way of shooting. Page 5 to 13 present many free-hand combat styles, which is called “拳法,” which says the way of fists, meaning fighting skills without weapons. Each picture contains at least at least two people, half-naked, looks like fighting with each other using different movement. People in various pictures are different, for example, on page 5, both two individuals have no beard. However, one man below has a beard. On page 8, two people below seems thinner and younger than people on page 9.

figure 1

Furthermore, page 15 has four small pictures, each one contains a person, carrying a spear, demonstrating the martial art movement. Every movement has a unique name, written on the top of each picture. For example, at the top left, there is a movement called “十面埋伏勢”(Figure 2), means the stance of the ambush on all sides. Most of the action name is combined with four Chinese characters, and the four characters are usually idioms, in Chinese called “成語,” followed by a word “勢,” which only means stance. Here I will briefly explain one example on page 15, “青龍獻爪勢,” the idiom is the four words “青龍獻爪,” the words could be divided into two parts for better understanding, “青龍” refers to the mighty Eastern dragon, use to be worshiped by people who practice Daoism. “獻爪” means showing claws. The four words “青龍獻爪” means the powerful dragon is about to attack its enemy. Therefore, in the picture, a man is performing a strike with using a spear. Some of the stance names contain only two characters followed by “勢,” on page 17, the picture at top right indicates the stance name is called “朝天勢,” two characters “朝天” means pointing the sky. In the picture, a man is pointing his spear upwards. Indeed, most martial art stances with weapons can be easily understood by combining pictures and Chinese characters. However on page 15, the bottom right picture with a man holding a spear is named “指南針勢”(Figure 3), it looks like the previous picture “十面埋伏勢,” the word “指南針” means “compass.” It is a metaphor, indicates that the spear is the point of the compass, while this man is pressing the spear close to his chest, he can charge forward by only moving the body. The shape of this stance looks like a compass. Both compass stance and Spear movement demonstration stop at page 20.

Figure 2
Figure 3

Moreover, “習藤牌圖,” and “習狼筅圖”, from page 21 to 27, both are using the same format as spear practicing  “習“ means to learn, “藤牌” means shield made of rattans, and “圖” means pictures. The word “狼筅” means a spear type of weapon with tree branches as decoration to block enemies’ vision. After that, there is “棍法圖,” which means pictures indicates different cudgel techniques. In each picture, two people demonstrate the cudgel techniques, and the person on the right side is the one who is the demonstrator, the one in left is the enemy of the demonstrator. For example, on page 28, the bottom picture is called “齊眉殺圖,” means to raise cudgel parallel to the eyebrow and hit the enemy with one end of the cudgel. Therefore, the man on the right side is raising his cudgel to parallel to the eyebrow. At the same time on page 29, the picture at the top is called “走馬回頭圖,” which means a galloping horse turns its head.  In Chinese martial arts, it represents one is tending to turn around and flee, however waiting for the opponent to chase, then suddenly turn back to give the opponent a fatal hit. Therefore, the guy on the right side is turning his body to hit the guy on the left. The last example is “下穿勢,” which means penetrate from the bottom. Also, the person on the right side is trying to attack his opponent from the bottom using cudgel.

The final part of this book is ordinary people’s daily life and some acrobatics. The first page contains two recreation sports, the first one seems like people throwing objects to beat each other for fun, and the second one is a person hitting a drum hanging on a tree branch. The instruction and explanation are written on the left side of the picture. Pictures of the last part of the book all have decent background and content. For example, on page 35, the picture “高絙圖,” literally means a picture of wire-walking. The picture is showing many people are watching a person performing wire-walking. Some of the audiences are cheering and pointing. The next one is “傀儡圖,” means the picture of a puppet show. The background has many details such as the puppet master is hiding under the eaves and controlling the puppet, audiences are gathering around and watching the show. Pictures such as “鬥雞圖,” watching gaming fowl, and “彈圖,” shooting birds with small rocks represents the hobbies of ordinary people. In the end, there are “吞劍圖,” picture of swallow a sword, and “走火圖,” a picture of walking on fire, both figures represent people earn money by performing acrobatics.

In conclusion, book six of Morokoshi Kinmo zui is presenting an excellent overview of Chinese martial art and people’s daily life and performance. The book focuses on explaining each movement of Chinese martial art with proper names, gives us the knowledge of how they call the stances, and the pictures are beautiful and detailed.

Comparison of the Nagasaki port: Hishū Nagasaki zu and Shinsen Hizen Nagasaki zu

Nagasaki, in the modern period, is well-known for its history of foreign influences. This essay will aim explore the influence of foreign trading at the Nagasaki port in the Tokugawa period. In this essay, I will compare two woodcut prints of the Nagasaki port, produced 40 years apart, examine some differences in depiction and attempt to provide some historical context to these changes.

General map description:

The first map, Hishū Nagasaki zu, is a 61.3 x 86.7 cm woodcut print. It was published in 1821 by Bunkindō, one of the four largest publishing houses for Nagasaki-e in the Tokugawa period[1].

See Map at UBC Open Collections

The second map of the Nagasaki port, Shinsen Hizen Nagasaki zu, a 43.2 x 63.7 cm woodcut print, was published by Kojudō in late 1860. It is noted that the map may have been published in commemoration of the opening of the Nagasaki port to American traders in 1857[2].

See map at UBC Library Open Collections

Both maps are oriented diagonally, with straight North pointing to the upper right corner of the map. This allows an aesthetically pleasing depiction of the ships horizontally entering and exiting the port. This orientation places Dejima in the centre of the maps as their subjects. Both maps include a chart at the bottom left hand corner describing the distances from Nagasaki to various city centres. These calculations include the distances travelled by land and by sea. For instance, the Hishū Nagasaki zu states that the distance from Nagasaki to Osaka is 197 ri by land, and 235 ri by sea.

The Dutch at Dejima:

Dejima is an artificially constructed island in the port of Nagasaki, initially built to inhibit the propagation of Christianity by Portuguese residents in Nagasaki. It was completed in 1636, and funded by Nagasaki’s Japanese merchants. In 1637, the Shimabara Rebellion occurred; initially an uprising against unfair treatment by officials in Shimabara, it became associated with the Christian religion[4]. This resulted in the complete expulsion of Portuguese residents from Japan. Dejima thus becomes the factory ground for the Dutch East India Company in 1641. Dejima became Japan’s sole contact with Europe until the late 1850’s[5].

dejima 18241825.jpg
Dejima Island 1780

The island is not illustrated in great detail on the Hishū Nagasaki zu, but one can identify a fence surrounding the perimeters of the island, and the single bridge that connects the trading post to the mainland. At this point (1820’s), the island was made up of warehouses, and some residential housing, as illustrated by the shaded blocks and roofed houses. Life on Dejima was monotonous. The Dutch residence had to abide by strict rules, and special permission was required to leave the island[6].


By the time the Shinsen Hizen Nagasaki zu was produced in 1860, Japan’s foreign relations had undergone significant change. With the arrival of the American fleet, the Shogunate government was forced to sign a U.S.-Japan treaty, opening up the country to trade with the Western world[7]. The Dutch government signed a similar treaty with Japan soon after; trade became exchanges with individual merchants rather than the Dutch factory. In early 1860, Dejima as a Dutch factory ceased to exist, becoming the new Dutch Consulate[8].

Dejima depicted in the Shinsen Hizen Nagasaku zu appears to have sparse roofed structures. The blocks of structures seen in the previous map seems to have disappeared, showing a change in the function of the island. There is also a second bridge connecting the island to the mainland, likely built after the establishment of the Dutch-Japan Treaty of Peace and Amity, permitting free entry and exit onto the island.


Foreign settlements (Gaigokujin yashiki) at Oura:

One of the most prominent changes between the two maps is the addition of the foreign residence to the area of Oura. The government, under the foreign treaties signed in the late 1850s, had to clear an area for incoming Western residents. Therefore, the area of Oura along the bay was designated to be filled and residences built for foreign merchants, sailors, and travellers[9]. The settlement officially opened July 1st, 1895[10], with most of its settlers originating from Britain.

Screenshot_20170328-124940 Screenshot_20170328-124856

Along with the influx of foreign traders, came the Western Christian missionaries. At this point, Christian practices was only allowed inside the foreign settlement. This did not stop Western missionaries’ attempted propagation of faith under the guise of teaching English to Japanese interpreters[11]

On the Shinsen Hizen Nagasaku zu, the foreign settlement on Oura is depicted as a large mass of land across from Dejima. It is hard to distinguish the building structures that are portrayed. However, records show that there are a variety of establishments at the settlement other than residential housing, including hotels, taverns, tea-firing establishments, and warehouses[12]. Amongst the undistinguishable buildings portrayed, it is easy to spot the churches marked by large crosses on the roofs. The map’s comparatively clear depiction of the churches reflect the prevalence of religion in Western culture, something that had been observed by the Japanese map-makers.



[1] Nagasaki-e, prints depicting particular characteristics of Nagasaki, are woodblock prints that became popular in the Edo period. They often depict foreigners or foreign objects, such as ships. These prints satiate the curiosity the Japanese held towards foreigners on their land, and are often bought by Japanese travellers during their stay to Nagasaki.

Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. (2002). Nagasaki Hanga. Retrieved from

[2] Univeristy of British Columbia Library. (2016). Shinzen Hizen Nagasaki zu. Retrieved from

[4] Marius B Jansen, Making of Modern Japan (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p 77-78.

[5] Nagasaki City. (2002). Dejima Comes Back to Life: History of Dejima. Retrieved from

[6] Marius B Jansen, Making of Modern Japan (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p 81.

[7] Marius B Jansen, Making of Modern Japan (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p 283.

[8] National Diet Library. (2009). Opening of Japan and Japan-Netherlands Relations. Retrieved from

[9] Earns, Lane. “The Foreign Settlement in Nagasaki, 1859–1869.” The Historian 56, no. 3 (1994): 484.

[10] Earns, Lane. “The Foreign Settlement in Nagasaki, 1859–1869.” The Historian 56, no. 3 (1994): 483.

[11] Earns, Lane. “The Foreign Settlement in Nagasaki, 1859–1869.” The Historian 56, no. 3 (1994): 488.

[12] Earns, Lane. “The Foreign Settlement in Nagasaki, 1859–1869.” The Historian 56, no. 3 (1994): 485.

Kan’in Dairi Keijō zu

The map shown above is titled Kan’in Dairi Keijō zu (閑院内裏京城図) or also known as Bird’s- eye view of Kyoto. This map is a part of UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collection’s. It is a map that is categorized under Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era. However, the original map dates back to the Kamakura period around 1200, and was formerly owned by Bunkyūdō (文求堂). Interestingly, the original map was destroyed in a fire and someone made a replica before it was destroyed. It was reproduced in 1892 which is the 25th year of the Meiji era. Which can been seen stated on the map.


If I am correct, it states that it was entrusted to Tanaka(田中) and Bunkyūdō (文求堂) has… well now had possession of it. As mentioned before it was reproduced during the 25th year of the Meiji era which is 1892. For some reason it specially states that it was being copied before or during sunrise. I just find this piece of information interesting.




Moreover, UBC does not even own the “replica” of the map, but a mere copy of the copied map. UBC’s copy is not even a physical copy, but rather it is a slide which one can go to UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collection’s to view. This makes me wonder how valuable and what was so important about this map. The physical copy of the map’s whereabouts is unknown. Since there is too much to cover, here I will be introducing some of the aspects about the temples and shrines that are present in this map of Kyoto.

To indicate what are shrines, temples or places of worship are, simply look for these characters (堂/神社/寺), which are pronounced (dō/jinjya/dera or ji ). However, it is not to say that (堂)(dō) always indicates a place of worship as it sometimes means hall or it is attached to names of stores and businesses.

The abundance of shrines and temples started to exist when Buddhism entered Japan. Many people of power sought out to legitimized their right of power through religion. Many emperors throughout the centuries, built them. By giving tribute to the deities, emperors hoped that they will protect them and bring prosperity to the land. With the continuous construction of temples and shrines, this created micro-cities that centered around shrines and temples.1 For nobles that no longer serve the state they were able to have influence through private matters from their wealth. By viewing the map one can see that most of the temples and shrines are not built within the city, but rather outside the capital. Stravos suggest that there is no evidence that suggests why there was a taboo that temples and shrines would not and could not be built within city grounds.2 However, some taboos that come to mind are, building within the city may threaten the current power. Building in the outskirts, both the current power and nobleman may be at peace as no ones’ powers are a threat and also poses a balance from an aesthetic point of view.

One would think that since Kyoto is a city that has a high density of religious establishments such as shrines and temples. Pilgrims would flock to Kyoto for their pilgrimages, instead of going else where as this way the pilgrims are able make a plan and go to each desired place of worship accordingly to whom they wish to pay tribute to. However, as Stravos mentioned with the creation of micro-cities, would some of these places where temples and shrines exist be private quarters and off limits to the public and only the few selected be allowed access? For many, they would go to one of the most famous temples which is the Kiyomizu dera (清水寺). Pilgrims journey here “to pray to its icon, faith in whom has cultivated the thriving businesses”.3

Aside from nobility being able to enjoy them, commoners also came to Kyoto to see the temples and shrines. As it attracted many people to honour and pay tribute to the deities. One pilgrimage that became popular is called the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage (西国三十三所). This pilgrimage is strictly only to visit Buddhist temples. This pilgrimage only covers the Kansai region. Several temples in Kyoto are a part of this journey. However, the only temple visible in this map that is included in the pilgrimage is the Kiyomizu dera. The Kiyomizu dera is number 16 on the journey. The creation of this pilgrimage is credited to emperor Kazan (968-1008) as he was credited as the founder in the Chikkyo seiji and tenin goroku. This pilgrimage was originally done austerity. A plain, and simple journey, which eventually turned into a popular devotion done by many people.4 With the popularity of the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, a condensed version was made for the city of Kyoto.5

After a long journey, pilgrims are able to obtain proof of pilgrimage. Proof of pilgrims can be found in forms of old name slips, Senjya fuda (千社札).6 Senjya fuda, name slips were mainly posted on gates or entrances of the shine or temple. Even now many people try to journey through this pilgrimage. People now perhaps may not walk and instead take transportation such as subways, trains, cars etc. People that journey through in present day collect temple stamps, shuin (朱印) in booklets called nokyocho (納経帳) as proof of visit instead of Senjya fuda. It changed from Senjya fuda to Shuin because, “In 1871 the government issued a decree for the protection of antiquities and ordered the prefectures to submit inventories of suitable objects.”7 . However, this was just the start. Eventually, a law called koshaji hozonoho, or ‘Law for the Preservation of Old Shrines and Temples’ was promulgated on 5 June 1897 (Law Number 49) in order to protect religious buildings and the works of art they contained.”8 The Senjya fuda was seen as damaging historical properties.

Another important place of worship in Kyoto is a shrine called Gionjinja (祇園神社), Which is now known as Yasakajinja (八坂神社). This shrine has been associated with the festival called the Gion Festival (祇園祭 Gion Matsuri). It has been said that every year of the 6th month which is present day July, for the whole month festivities are done as purification. This ceremony is named Goryōe. Chapin states that Goryōe is a “phallic worship…. and the long poles know as “hoko,” or “spears,”” are symbols of phallicism.9 Chapin continues to state that, it is believed that phallic images exorcised evil influences and life threatening causes. “What brings life to is not unnaturally suppose to have power over death” and the festival started in the endeavour to get rid of a plague.10 As to why the Gion jinja was chosen, it is because the Bull-headed King is worshiped at this shrine. This Bull-headed Kings is believed to associated with phallic gods. Hence, Goin jinja was chosen as it was believed that phallic worship helped stopped the spread of epidemics.

Although little is known about medieval Kyoto, this map has given us an insight on why and how there are many inclosed areas, “micro-cities” in Kyoto. As there are proof that commoners came to pay tribute, how many were actually accessible to the public is unknown. What is for sure is the importance of Kiyomizudera and Gionjinja. Over and over these two places of warship are seen depicted in Rakuchu rakugai zu, (Scenes in and around the Capital). The two places of worship may have been seen as a places that protect the capital from evil spirits and purification. However, we will save this for another time.



1Stavros,Matthew. Kyoto: An Urban History of Japan’s Premodern Capital. (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2014), 61.

2Ibid., 62.

3McKelway, Matthew P. . Capitalscapes. (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006), 53.

4MacWilliams, Mark. “Buddhist Pilgrim/Buddhist Exile: Old and New Images of Retired Emperor Kazan in the Saigoku Kannon Temple Guidebooks.” History of Religions 34, no. 4 (1995): 303.

5Winfield, Pamela D.. “Kyoto Pilgrimage Past and Present.” CrossCurrents 59, no.3 (2009): 353.

6See note 6 Above.

7Henrichsen, Christoph. “Historical outline of conservation legislation in Japan.” Horzon Architectural and Urban Conservation in Japan. Ed. Enders, Siegfried RCT, and Gutschow Niels. Sungnam: Daehan Printing and Publishing Co.,Ltd., 1998. 12.

8Coaldrake, William Howard. “Building the Meiji State: The Western Architectural Hirearchy.” Architecture and Authority in Japan. New York; Routledge. 1996. 248.

9Chapin, Helen B. “The Gion Shrine and the Gion Festival.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 54, no. 3 (1934): 285.

10See note 9 above.



Chapin, Helen B. “The Gion Shrine and the Gion Festival.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 54, no. 3 (1934): 282-89.

Coaldrake, William Howard. “Building the Meiji State: The Western Architectural Hirearchy.” 208-250. Architecture and Authority in Japan. New York; Routledge. 1996.

Henrichsen, Christoph. “Historical outline of conservation legislation in Japan.” Horzon Architectural and Urban Conservation in Japan, 12-21. Edited by Enders, Siegfried RCT, and Gutschow Niels. Sungnam: Daehan Printing and Publishing Co.,Ltd., 1998.

MacWilliams, Mark. “Buddhist Pilgrim/Buddhist Exile: Old and New Images of Retired Emperor Kazan in the Saigoku Kannon Temple Guidebooks.” History of Religions 34, no. 4 (1995): 303-28.

McKelway, Matthew P. . Capitalscapes. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006

Stavros, Matthew. Kyoto: An Urban History of Japan’s Premodern Capital. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2014.

Winfield, Pamela D.. “Kyoto Pilgrimage Past and Present.” CrossCurrents 59, no.3 (2009): 349–357.

Fujisan no zu

Introduce Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is also known as Fujiyama, Fuji-YoNama andFujisan. It is a cone-shaped volcanic mountain. Its last eruption happened in 1707. Mount Fuji is 12,388 feet, and it is the highest mountain in Japan. Mount Fuji as tall as the cloud. The top of the Mount is always full of snow. Mount Fuji is the most sacred mountain. Mount Fuji is located on the island of Honshu. (Whalen,2) Mount Fuji is the most famous mountain in Japan. Mount Fuji added to the World Heritage Site in 2013. Mount Fuji is pilgrim place, and there are many literary works base on Mount Fuji. Therefore Mount Fuji is the representative of Japan, and it is very sacred.

Literary works based on the Mount Fuji

During Japanese era 713, Japanese starts to write fudoki (風土記)that report provincial geography, culture, agriculture.Etc. There is one fodoki called “Hitachi no Kuni Fudoki (常陸国風土記) “has recorded a story about Mount Fuji. There is a deity of heaven travel all around Japan. The deity visits Mount Fuji first. Mount Fuji refuses deity’s request to stay in Mount Fuji overnight because Mount Fuji believes that it does not need deity’s blessing. Mount Fuji already has the perfect shape and the high peak. Then, the deity visits the Mount Tsukuba inside the Hitachi province. Mount Tsukuba lets deity stay and offering food humbly. As a result, Mount Fuji always has snow covering the peak, and it is always cold. On the other hand, Mount Tsukuba is very colorful with the season changing.
Later, there are many legends about Mount Fuji come out. In the 10th-century Japanese fiction prose narrative called “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter(竹取物語)”. The book talks about a bamboo cutter called Taketori no Okina finds a little girl inside the bamboo when he is cutting the bamboo. Taketori no Okina brings the little girl home. Taketori no Okina and his wife treat the little girl as their own daughter and name her Kaguya-hime which means “princess of flexible bamboos scattering light”. Three months later, the little girl grows up and the news of her beauty spread. Therefore, many young men come to Taketori no Okina and ask for marry Kaguya-hime. The emperor also become one of the men ask for marry Kaguya- hime. However, Kaguya-hime refuses all of them. Kaguya-hime is the fairy of the moon. And she has to go back to the moon on the August 15th in the third year. Before Kaguya-hime returns to the moon. Kaguya-hime leaves elixir of immortality for her parents. Taketori no Okina does not live forever without his daughter. Taketori no Okina hands the elixir of immortality to the emperor. The emperor burns the elixir of immortality and the letter on the peak of the highest mountain. Therefore, the word immortality, Fushi不死(never dead) became the name of the mountain – Mount Fuji. Therefore, Japanese solider will have the figure of Mount Fuji on their clothes. They believe that Mount Fuji means Fushi.

The religion based on Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji used to be treated as a sacred mountain, because of the volcanic eruption. People believe that Mount Fuji has the power of fire and water. (Earhart)
First, Mountain valued more because it is suitable for Buddhism practice. Around six century C.E. Japanese get influence from Chinese religion. During that time, Buddhism is the main religion in China. Taoist notions and Confucian ideas are also popular. Therefore, people believe that the best place for meditation is a flat area deep in the mountains base on the Buddhism sutra.(Earhart). So, the mountain has more meaning.
Second, because there are building and rites are located on the mountain peak and mountainside. Therefore, climbing mountain is also a religious practice. For example, the Fuji pilgrimages. (Earhart). Mount. Fuji uses to be a sacred place that people can only look at but not able to climb because of the volcanic eruption. Later, climbing Mount Fuji has become a religious practice. The pilgrimage route to the summit of Mount Fuji has been establish on the fourteenth century. There are two cultic related to Mount Fuji: fire rituals and climbing the mountain.

The Fuji-ko (富士講) performs fire ceremonies before people climbing the mountain, and burn the mini straw replicas Mount Fuji. (Brockman, 355) Just like the picture below on the left side. During Edo period, some people might live too far away from Mount Fuji. They cannot afford to go to Mount Fuji, and women are not allowed to climb Mount Fuji. Therefore, people contribute a mini Mount Fuji on the direction of Mount Fuji so that they can pray to the mini Mount Fuji. (Brockman,355).
“Pilgrims starts at a shrine at the base of the mountain. Each of the routes has ten rest station…the most popular route has ninety-nine switchbacks.” (Brockman, 355). The six people on the right-hand side of the picture are the people who are climbing the mountain.

Third, these later develop to express the mixture of tradition. (Earhart).
The key point of all the legend about Mount Fuji is Asama Shrine (浅間神社).”In Kakugyo’s time, the two chief religious institutions devoted to Mt. Fuji were the Fuji Sengen (or Asama) Shrine 富士浅間神社.”(Tyler,252). Asama Shrine still has 1300 branches nowadays. Therefore Asama shrine still have a large influence in Japan as we can see from the number. During Edo period, there are many religions base on Mount Fuji. These religions are the new religions that mix Shintoism and Buddhism. During this time, Assma Shrine also becomes a “bodhisattva” in Assma. Mount Fuji is very important in religions believes at that time. (Earhart)

“Fuji ascetic Kakugyo 角行 (書行藤佛)(1541- 1646), the founder of the Edo- period (1600-1868) cult of Mt. Fuji.” (Tyler, 252). During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, society and religion are mixed together because of the warring state. “ The central message and key leader of Fuji religiosity came not from Murayama and its professional Shugendo priests but from the ranks of the common people – a wandering practitioner named Kakugyo.” (Earhart). Kakugyo Tobustu Ku is the right-hand side figure of the two mountain ascetics featured on the map. The name Kakugyo Tobustu Ku is meaningful. Kaku means “square”, Gyo means “practice” , To can be read as “fuji”, Butsu is the name of the Buddhism and Ku means honor. Therefore, the name Kakugyo Tobutsu Ku means square, fuji, practice buddha and honor.

Kakugyo Tobustu Ku has two great disciples. One is Jikigyo Miroku 食行身禄 (1671-1733)and Murakami Kosei 村上光清 (1682-1759. These two people are great sixth-generation successors that turned the cult into a mass movement. (Tyler, 253). Jikigyo Miroku is the figure above that on the left side. Miroku means Maitreya 弥勒 in Buddhism which is the Buddha who is to come. Jikigyo Miroku gets the name Miroku 身禄 from Fuji deity directly (Tyler,261). Jikigyo Miroku’s death launched the Fuji cult as a mass movement. Jikigyo fasted to death on the height of Mt.Fuji. Jikigyo Miroku uses his death to feed the world. (Tyler, 261)

During that time, Japan has many religion bases on the nature worship. The religion base on the nature worship still has influence till now. All these worship and religions are the people want to have some supernatural that can help their life, make their dream come true by using a fantasy way. That is the original Japanese religions. It related to Earhart has mentioned: “ At Fuji, as is true within all of the Japanese religion, power- even destructive force – may be venerated as well as feared, worshiped at the same time as it is pacified. “ (Asasm shirne)

In conclusion, the religion base on Mount Fuji is a mixture of Shintoism, Buddhism, Taoism and some folk belief. All these elements reflect that the relationship between Mount Fuji and Japanese.

1.Whalen, Ken. Fuji, Mount. Sage Knowledge, 2017, Access Mar 26, 2017.
2.Earhart, Byron. Mount Fuji: Icon of Japan. The University of South Carolina Press, 2011.
3.Brockman,Norbert C. Encyclopedia of sacred places. 2011.
4. Tyler Royall, The Book of the Great Practice: The Life of the Mt. Fuji Ascetic Kakugyō Tōbutsu Kū. Nanzan University, 1993.

Reality and Sadness in the Poems of Mt. Utsu

Mount Utsu is well known for its mythology and paths of overgrown ivy and maples trees. It is often used metaphorically to contrast a kind of reality within the dream world. Utsu is a play on the word utsutsu, which literally means reality, and has connotations of awakening, and a mountain of sadness…Continue reading


Departure and Reunion at Ōsaka Barrier

Poetic pillows (utamakura)are a feature of Japanese travel literature. They were first used by prieststo remember the details of the places they traveled to. Since then, utamakura has become a common literary technique, specifically in poetry. They can evoke certain images and emotions, and they are understood by many readers…Continue reading


Sorrow and Loneliness in Suma

Utamakura are “pillow-words” that have, through centuries of literary convention, come to convey a whole slew of imagery and emotion in a concise package. They often also coincide with meisho—famous places that have come to be associated with certain imagery and themes. And, as far as utamakura and meisho go, Suma is a big one…Continue reading

The Exile of Yukihira at Suma (Kitagawa Utamaro)

The Lake of Omi Province

The Lake of Ōmi (now called Lake Biwa, or 琵琶湖) is situated in what used to be Ōmi province, now known to us as Shiga (滋賀) prefecture. It is the largest lake in Japan, and takes up a large amount of the prefecture. It is mentioned numerous times in the Manyoshu, an anthology of poems compiled sometime after 759 AD…Continue reading