Wrapping up 2020: What a disaster.

Today is December 31st, 2020. It’s the end of the year, and it couldn’t come fast enough. 2020 vision is such a sad joke, it makes me really wonder if we, as a human race, have much hindsight after the debacle that has been this year. Things seemed to have started out okay, but then with the corona pandemic, the wheels came off. The temples closed down, the airports shut down, the pilgrims from overseas dwindled down to virtually nothing. It’s been a rough year for so many, and our hearts are truly broken for those who lost so much this year: loved ones, jobs, careers, house and home, passion for living, health, and inspiration.

It’s been a dark dark year, and it is hard to be philosophical about it, especially when you know and feel that so much damage to our world this way was avoidable, treatable, and could have been handled so much better. As a people we ought to feel no small amount of outrage at people who downplayed the pandemic, who pretended that it really wasn’t so bad, and that it would disappear like magic. A lot of people are gone now, who didn’t need to be, because of these genocidal acts of omission and the promotion of falsehood and outright lies.

We need to do better from now on. We need to really make education, reading, and the pursuit of intellectual expansion priorities for our communities and societies. Vaccines are not “theories”, it is medicine to prevent tragedy. Science is not a “worldview”. Science is real. We need to be a bit stronger to state these things directly and be less tolerant of ignorance and overly loud opinion as having “equal value of perspective”. It does not. We must not give it another inch. Our generosity towards stupidity has lethal consequences.

So, when you are venturing forth and making plans to make your way to Shikoku for a journey of a lifetime, please do take care of yourself. Get medical insurance before you come. This is a MUST HAVE item. Get the vaccinations you need. Cooperate with others until things get better. Social distance, wear your mask, do no harm. Be considerate. Wash your hands. Book your hotels and inns before you come. Plan your journey for next year (maybe…. fall???) meticulously. Leave less to chance. By all means, come to Shikoku and explore the splendor that awaits, and start the healing journey you may need, but use more than your heart to do so. Use your brain. Make a plan. Make a schedule. Be flexible with your expectations. Be kind and forgiving to yourself and to others.

Let’s do our part to make 2021 the year we come back from the brink of darkness. I’ll still be here cheering you on!

Kumano: The Next Stage

It has been an unbelievable month here in sunny Kagawa-ken. And I really have much to be grateful for. I managed to launch my book, Your Pilgrimage in Japan: A Regular Canadian on the 88 Temple Buddhist Pilgrimage of Shikoku (available through fine Internet connections everywhere). And the response has been very very good.

In one recent interview with a major news outlet (article to be released soon) I received the comment, “Regular Canadian! That’s great!”, as we talked about what the difference is between my book and what is typically out there by “experts” who wax longwindedly about their tremendous insights and personal revelations. The book is a bit “off the beaten track” as it were, as the starting position as a writer is not a “I know everything so now I need to educate you”, kind of approach. Rather, the style, as well as my own personal philosophy in living is “I don’t know much, and will not pretend to. Instead, let’s go and see what we can see together, and have an incredible fun and rewarding experience along the way”.

Word of the release of my book has reached ears has reached a few more writers and there are more interviews and discussions coming in the weeks to come.

Another incredible development is that I received an invitation to go out to Mie Prefecture for a meeting with business and local government people who are involved in the promotion of the Kumano Koudou. They have invited me to come to see and experience that pilgrimage and to attend meetings to discuss how pilgrimage experiences can be more inviting and supportive of foreign travellers to Japan. Of course I am deeply honoured and thrilled to be part of the process. That adventure will be later this month so expect to be bombarded with more photos and reports of that experience.

I am now thinking that I have had some kind of great subconscious inspiration for naming this website, “YOUR pilgrimage in Japan”. Who knows where the road will take you and I! I am excited to be of service to Japanese hosts, businesses, and communities who want to share their rich and vibrant culture. And I am delighted to help my fellow pilgrims from overseas get to the doorway of their new adventure in Japan.

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Hard Copy of Your Pilgrimage in Japan

Amazon is a speedy machine. I had put out the notice that the Kindle version was ready to go and when I woke up this morning I got the notice that the hard copy version is now also available.

I can’t describe how excited I am that this book is out there. I have written books before, and make a bunch of textbooks/homework books for our English student. But this one is a special book. It is one that I hope will serve as an inspiration to whet the appetite of people who are all over the world and thinking of doing something for their lives that may help them get “on a better path”.

Of course, no vacation or long walk through the woods and through temples will solve all your problems. But time away from the noise of things that drag you down, a bit of a disconnect from the white sound of television and media, and a chance to learn and explore the glorious Shikoku Pilgrimage may do one’s soul good.

So, if you are interested please get yourself a copy of the book. Available through fine internet connections everywhere:


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Calm Pilgrimage Video

I’m constantly on the look out for new quality video taken of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Some is really highly produced and carefully choreographed, and that can be great. But this video is very nice in the calmness and simplicity of its creation and production.

Check it out:

Some of the drone photography is simply superb.

Walk Japan

Walk Japan. Walk Shikoku


Walk Japan is a very interesting company and I think a great way to get your first Shikoku Pilgrimage experience in Japan. While a lot of people, when talking about the experience, say that they are “all in”, as in planning to walk for two months around Shikoku, are really impressive there is a huge majority of people who just cannot dedicate that kind of time and energy.

But… they would still LOVE to have a pilgrimage experience. But… the worry they can’t walk so long, or get away from their home and work for such a long time, and are not sure it is a thing they want to spend so much energy doing. They need an experience, but they are not ready for “the whole meal deal”.

Very reasonable, and very sensible. And very much within the contexts of what the Shikoku Pilgrimage can be all about. Most pilgrims (ohenro) walk the pilgrimage at their own pace, their own speed, and complete it (or not) in their own good time. This is the most sensible and natural thing in the world.

There are no “obligations”. You can try the pilgrimage for a couple days, a weekend, or even for a single afternoon. Why not? If you like it you can do more, and if you discover that you would rather explore other parts of Japan instead you should be free to do that too.

And you are.

Walk Japan offers immersion experiences, guided and self-guided, for a range of reasonable budgets. I had a chance to meet Paul Christie, Walk Japan CEO, on his visit to Takamatsu and I immediately liked him. Not a “sales guy”, not a pushy blabber mouth, but just kind and cheerful, with a ton of incredible information and insight.

I like Paul because he “got it” right away about what the nature of visiting Japan is about. People want to experience Japan, see cool things, try new things, get information about things, have their questions answered, and not feel pushed or pulled along the way. What you see on the Walk Japan site are images that are taken by regular cameras by regular people. What you see there will be what you see when you come for yourself. I like that approach a lot. It is respectful to the visitors who come, and is balanced and sensible.

I want to note for you here that this plug for Walk Japan is completely without their knowing. I don’t receive anything from the company for plugging their cool site, or recommending them to you. If Paul sees this blog he is very welcome to come back to Takamatsu for a visit and I hope we can just have lunch together and continue our very interesting conversation. That would be great.

But in the meantime, if you are looking and thinking about a pilgrimage experience I cannot recommend these guys enough. Check them out, send them an email, and see if you can connect with them.

Travel safe. Travel well.


Truly Excellent Pilgrimage Video for Youtube

You must check this out. The video quality is simply stunning. Youtube creator, Evaldas Karalius, makes this marvellous video (called the “short version”) of his astonishing trek through the temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

The music is so appropriate and calm throughout. The video is very natural and very much what you would see and do yourself when you come to Shikoku.

Evaldas captures some incredible moments with other pilgrims on the path, and some of the sounds and visuals are so impressive. I think that this is one of the absolute best videos I have see on the pilgrimage.

Not telling you what to do. Not giving you a lecture. Just showing. Just looking. Just being in the moment.

I’m deeply impressed.