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The Henro is a precious culture of all Shikoku and Shikoku might have a great visibility in the world thanks to this Henro culture. It links a lot to the mental healing that most of Japanese are trying to have. We walked afresh the Henro (pilgrimage) route and were fascinated by beautiful scenery and generous hospitalilty of people. This experience made us find out that the gratitude and the faith for other people in the Henro culture would save the human being and nurse the friendship in all over the world. We felt the meaning of Henro culture existing for more than a thousand years and that it must last even more. We started planning to build a supporting system of Shikoku pilgrimage and activate this culture, aiming to be listed as World Heritage by UNESCO someday. If many people from other part of Japan or from other countries visit Shikoku Henro, it might be a great hope for us.


Process until the establishment

In 2000 we started the research about Henro by walking the route by ourselves. On the way we couldn’t find many toilets, nor enough signs indicating the direction, nor places to take a break. So we planned to arrange the “Omotenashi (hospitality) Station” or the place where pilgrims can use toilet, ask the way and take a rest. With the cooperation of some companies and individuals, we could start this project. We placed the signs at each Omotenashi Stations. When we started there were 43 stations in Kagawa, 42 in Tokushima, 31 in Kouchi, 47 in Ehime. This project is enlarged especially after NTT docomo shops in Shikoku accepted to be Omotenashi Stations. Many students of Kagawa University helped us to post these signs at the forks, for two years from 2003. In 2004 we began “the Walking Circle of Shikoku Henro” that the participants try to walk the pilgrim’s route. There were 419 from Kagawa, 257 from Tokushima, 219 from Kouchi, 374 from Ehime, in total 1,269 participants in this project and shared this experience, feeling the hospitality of people there. When we re-entered in our region Sanuki, we hoped to see a stone monument saying “Welcome to Sanuki”, so afterwards we built one on the border of prefectures. We’re planning to build further monuments at forks on the route. We designate the people who have walked all the Shikoku Henro route as Henro Taishi (Henro ambassador) and those who contributed (are contributing) to the development of the Omotenashi (hospitality) culture in Shikoku, as Omotenashi Taishi (ambassador of hospitatlity). Also, we organize the collective walk events inviting local parents and children.  We’ve started walking the route of pilgrimage in Spain since 2006. We’d like to exchange with other pilgrimage route in abroad aiming to be listed as World Heritage by UNESCO someday…  


March 23th, 2006


NPO Network for Shikoku Henro Pilgrimage and Hospitality

Chairperson Toshiyuki UMEHARA



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