The development of pilgrimages within Japanese society could greatly be conditioned to geographical, cultural, religious or topographical factors. There were there primary types of pilgrimages among the Japanese: Pilgrimage to the sacred mountains, pilgrimage to the shrines and temples based on the enshrined divinities and pilgrims to the sacred places, which are based on special powers of charismatic persons such as Buddha. The pilgrimages to the sacred mountains were founded on Buddhist notion of jiriki, self power, an idea that made those who are self strong via ascetic practices. Buddhists believed that there was a need of training for one to obtain some special powers, which were acquired through regular visits to the holy mountains. The non-Buddhists specialists like the healers, the ascetics and the shamans as well as the greater public also acquired the special powers.
During the Middle Ages (twelfth and eleventh) aristocrats believed in pilgrimages to the sacred mountains to help them experience Pure Land while they were still living. Moreover, it was believed that kami of the mountains were manifestations of the Buddhists divinities; they were merely special ascetics, and would be guided by the aristocrats within the region. By the nineteenth century, there were more that 17,000 senior guides that were familiar with the sacred mountains. Even as the aristocracy and courtship declined during the initial days of Tokugawa era, there was a novel phenomenon emerging in already existing mountain pilgrimage beliefs. There were four major pilgrimage sites that had been recommended by Buddha. ...Show more