The Chichibu Pilgrimage 秩父三十四箇所

Under Kannon's eye

The Chichibu pilgrimage is one of the most important pilgrimages in Japan. Crossing 34 sacred sites dedicated to the boddhisatva Kannon through the ancient province of Chichibu (current Saitama prefecture), it is also because of its rather modest length (about 100 kilometers ) one of the most accessible path.

An old pilgrimage

 

The Chichibu pilgrimage is one of the oldest in Japan, having been set up in the 13th century towards the end of the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), which would explain the very strong influence of Zen Buddhism there, most of the temples belonging to the schools Soto and Rinzai of this sect.

Originally it had 33 stations, corresponding to the 33 different manifestations of Kannon, with the addition of a 34th stage dating from 1536.

 

Kannon-ji, temple No. 21 of the Chichibu pilgrimage

Wikipedia

make the pilgrimage

 

In Japan, many who choose to begin a pilgrimage don the traditional dress including the hakui (the white jacket), the sugegase (a conical hat), and a pilgrim's staff.

They also carry the "nokyo-cho", a small notebook in which they note the name of the temple they have just passed, its number, and the specificities of the Kannon of the place. The temple staff places the site stamp in red ink on the notebook page.

Pilgrims at the entrance of a temple

Pilgrims at the entrance to a temple.

Wikimedia Commons

However, it is not necessary to arm yourself with all this tradition to set off on the pilgrimage. The journey from Ikebukuro station to Seibu-Chichibu station takes about 1h30, and from there it is then possible to radiate to the different portions of the circuit.

By returning to Chichibu each evening, the entire pilgrimage can be completed in 5 to 7 days. Note that some temples can be located high up, after a significant number of steps, or at the level of forest paths. Although quite short, it may require some physical effort and equipment to find your bearings.

 

Hashidate-Do Temple

Hashidate-Do Temple, the 28th temple of the Chichibu pilgrimage

Wikipedia


Address, timetable & access

  • Address

  • Timetable

    From JR Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo, take the Redarrow Line (Ikebukuro Line) to Seibu-Chichibu Station (~1h30)
  • Price

    Free
  • Access

    Open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.

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