chapter  6
16 Pages

Shifting signposts in Shikoku pilgrimage

ByJOHN S. HARDING

Signposts can be quite useful to a traveler, pilgrim, or scholar. Both the literal and figurative meanings of this term can offer guidance. Physical signposts strategically placed where paths diverge can indicate direction and distance to one’s destination. In a more figurative sense, signposts can signal that one is entering a complicated situation and may also help one navigate unfamiliar terrain. In this chapter, I will discuss observations about tradition and change in Japan’s famous multi-site Shikoku pilgrimage. I will emphasize how practitioners respond to modifications in the route and how scholars perceive these transformations as signs of complex historical interactions that continuously reshape religious traditions.