This guidebook is a must-have for anyone who is traveling on foot for the 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage. If you are planning on coming out this way, you simply must have this book in your pack. There are times that cell phone batteries die, internet access is not possible, or if you are like me, you actually lose your phone in the sea. It is times like this that you must prepare to go “old school”. Yes, that means that you will need to harken back to the “good old days” when our knowledge was somehow stored on pieces of paper which were fastened in a stack either by thread, staples, or glue. You know what I am talking about! You got it!
Books! Yay. I love books.
So, this book is full of maps and little synopses of the various temples and surrounding area attractions. It is really quite a marvel that so much information could be packed into a single book. It is very inexpensive too. Mine cost 1,600 yen, so that is about 16 bucks.
But this book is not without controversy! Yes, indeed. There is scandal. There are divisive voices as to its worthiness for taking precious space in your backpack.
The first criticism I heard is that the information is not completely accurate as to what places are open for lodging and which are closed. The people who make this criticism are unhappy that the book does not behave as an electronic data holding machine that updates its information instantaneously. It is an outrage! Yes, how can a book not be like the internet! I demand all my books to behave like my computer!
The second criticism I heard is that the book is too heavy. I read of a critic who suggested that the book be printed on lighter material, perhaps the glue in the binding could be cut down, or that there is simply too much useful information that had better be deleted. Another outrage! Yes, we all know that the movement of ohenro is much like an Olympic competitive swimmer who shaves all their body hair off so that they can move much quicker through the water. We need the ohenro to be more streamlined and aerodynamic.
My own response to these two criticisms is 1) Books are not computers. Plan your trip better and get the information you need from a bunch of sources before putting the responsibility for YOU have a place to sleep on the guys who made this book. 2) If you think you will be too tired to carry around this “heavy” book made of sturdy useful pages of maps, just imagine how tired you will be walking 20 kilometers off course when you have nothing on paper to properly guide you.
This book is the labor of love of a whole bunch of people. It is updated regularly and there are Facebook groups and websites that update the status of places to stay. Mr. Tateki Miyazaki, Mr. Naoyuki Matsushita are the authors of this book. Translation done by Mr. David Moreton. Publishers is Buyodo Co. Ltd.
Remember that before you get out on the trail you need this in your pack. There is no real reasonable way around this. I can walk around with it in a big side pocket of my jacket or in a small pocket in my carry-around bag. It really doesn’t weigh much, and the information in it could really help you when you need it.