The Shikoku Pilgrimage

“I don’t know who I am. And I don’t think people ever will know who they are. We have to be humble enough to learn to live with this mysterious question. Who am I? So, I am a mystery to myself. I am someone who is in this pilgrimage from the moment that I was born to the day to come that I’m going to die. And this is something that I can’t avoid, whether I like it or not, or — I’m going to die. So, what I have to do is to honor this pilgrimage through life. And so I am this pilgrim — if I can somehow answer your question — who’s constantly amazed by this journey. Who is learning a new thing every single day. But who’s not accumulating knowledge, because then it becomes a very heavy burden in your back. I am this person who is proud to be a pilgrim, and who’s trying to honor his journey.” 
Paulo Coehlo

I am so glad you are here.

What that means is that you are interested in doing something more than swimming in imagesthe anesthesia of reality TV, the ridiculousness of recent politics, bad pop music, and the endless noise of the whatever latest outrage is stomping across the  Internet.

I suspect that you are looking for something more to do with your life, or to figure out what you should be doing with the days ahead, rather than remain plugged into the wifi umbilical cord of sound and fury.

You may not find answers here. You may not find them on the Ohenro Pilgrimage. You may not find them as you travel through the 88 temples ahead and follow in the steps of Kukai (Koubou Daishi). I think you should be okay with that from the beginning.

But, you may find something unexpected on the way. You may see something unfamiliar in yourself that is truer, and more “you”. It might be good to see that, and to travel the miles ahead to give that a chance to surface in your mind.

The act of pilgrimage is an ancient, multi-cultural expression of growth and discovery. Many pilgrimages have a goal, an end-point, but the 88 Temple Pilgrimage of Shikoku does not have a “goal”. It is, in fact, a circle. You can start anywhere, you can end anywhere. You can visit the temples out of order, in reverse, or zigzag all over as you see fit. The shape of the pilgrimage is telling in how it affects the pilgrims who are on it.

This website and blog has a single purpose. It is to invite you. It is to invite you to come out this way to Shikoku and get out on the path. What you learn on the path will be yours, and it will be as private or as shared as you choose. There is something important for you that is here. I do not know what it is. And maybe you do not either.

What we do know is that the person who begins a pilgrimage is not the same person who gets to the end of it. It could be a very good thing for you to do.

Clear your head. Get away from the noise of what is around you. Take the time you need to organize the people and things in your world that pull and push. Put it all on pause, just for a few days or weeks.

You will change. You will grow. You will know something new.

I hope that you will find these pages on this site (it will grow and change too) helpful, encouraging, informative, and fun. I will be cheering for you as you walk the miles.

Your invitation awaits! Travel safe,


Mark Groenewold