The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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What is "orei-mairi?"
However, there are no strict definitions and some confusion regarding this, so I will tell you of the present state of discussion on this. The word orei-mairi despite being only a general phrase has different meanings for different people.
Worshiping at the first temple
After completing the pilgrimage around the 88 temples, it is custom to worship again at the temple or place where one started the journey and express one's feelings of gratitude and offer a report that the journey has been safely completed. Most people begin their pilgrimage from Temple 1, Ryozenji in Tokushima Prefecture so after finishing at Temple 88, that person goes to Temple for orei-mairi.
However, because there is no problem to commence the pilgrimage from a place most convenient from home, for example a person starting at Temple 51 would finish at Temple 50, orei-mairi would be done at Temple 51.
In the book "Shikoku Henro Hitori Aruki Dogyo Ninin" published by the Pilgrim Path Preservation Cooperative Association, the meaning for orei-mairi is given, however the custom of going back to Temple 1 after finishing the pilgrimage became the standard way only after World War II.
In the stamp book sold at Temple 1, Ryozenji there is a page that says, "Mangan Orei-Mairi - the first temple" which demonstrates that this kind of orei-mairi, which is going back to Temple 1, is recognized.
During my first pilgrimage, I did this. When one does the pilgrimage in reverse revisiting each of the temples from early in the trip, I feel like the first part of my pilgrimage is being rewound and played over after.
Since orei-mairi of going back to the temple where one started the journey became standard it has been reflected in the stamp book or the ingenious way the stamp books has been made have helped to spread this custom, but the truth regards this is unclear.
Regarding the orei-mairi of "going back to the first temple" has been said by people at temples "The way the stamp book is made at Temple 1, Ryozenji is just a gimmick to get twice the amount of money for the stamp book so there is absolutely no significance of doing this kind of orei mairi."
However, to the walking pilgrim, I think it is a style that has some meaning.
Going to Mt. Koya
Yet most walking pilgrims have in mind to start from Temple 1 and from the thought of "I want to focus on finishing" which emerges as they continue around, I think that most start to feel that "after I finish I will go to Mt. Koya."
If one wants to stop after finishing the journey then one can choose the earlier mentioned "going to the temple from which one started at" or not and I don't think there are difficulties psychologically.
One can walk the well-developed 24 kilometer old pilgrim path called Choishimichi from the temple Jizonin which is said to be the "Women's Koya" which is close to Kyudosan station on the Nanakai Koya line.
Going around again
That is the case in my diary of my first pilgrimage because there are repeated entries that end with the words, "Thank you."
However, this differs with reality.
In the book, "Iwanami Shashin Bunko 176 Shikoku Henro" published in 1956, it states on page 62, "It is normal procedure for pilgrims who finished the pilgrimage at Temple 88, Okuboji to present their staff, however if one has a heart to once again do the pilgrimage it is possible to take it home as a memorial.
"The end of the long journey finishes here.
By the way, the author of this book did not go on orei mairi however from the phrase 'since olden times' it becomes clear that at least pilgrims had such a choice and it can be presumed that some of them did it this way.
As well in 1988, Tazaki in her book, "Musume Henro" of her pilgrimage writes that after finishing at Temple 88, she rather naturally proceeded to Temple 1, Ryozenji for 'orei-mairi' and also went to Mt. Koya.
On the other hand, this does not mean that there are no examples proving the Reijokai's interpretation that the second pilgrimage is one of orei-mairi. In the book, "Henronikki - Kotsujiki Angya Sanbyakuri" from 1961 which records the walking pilgrimage of Kagita Chuzaburo states, "after finishing the pilgrimage at Temple 88, Okuboji I went home by car right away.
However, my body, which was deemed by doctor to last only two months, returned to a healthy state due to being a walking pilgrim. I was thankful for this and afterwards decided to again participate in the orei-mairi to the 88 sites." (p. 1)
How about before the war? In the book, "Shikoku Henro no Susume" written by Yasuda Keimi in 1931 he writes that, "It is normal to do the Shikoku pilgrimage by starting at Toji Temple in Kyoto and finishing at Mt. Koya." (p. 37).
Putting aside the discussion as to the legitimacy as of the various types of orei mairi it is apparent that depending how one expresses orei mairi that there is ambiguity about it along the Shikoku Pilgrimage route as seen the examples mentioned earlier.
In order to avoid misunderstanding it might be appropriate to express it by saying "Go to give thanks at the temple you started at" or "Visit Mt. Koya" or "Do the pilgrimage again in order to show gratitude."
I think that each of the three styles mentioned above have their own significance.
If you think that such definitions are acceptable, than that is fine.
As well, the concept of visiting Mt. Koya much later after finishing one's pilgrimage is possible as well as to go to another temple which is more memorable to them and not 'the first temple they started at.'