What do pilgrims wear and carry?

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Pilgrims are usually recognized along the trail by wearing and carrying some or all of the following items (which can be bought at Temple 1 and 2):

  1. ‘Sugegasa’ – sedge hat, used as sun or rain protection. There are various kanji characters and one sanskrit character written on the hat. The sanskrit character must face forward. It’s not necessary to take off when praying.

  2. ‘Wagesa’ – stole, this is a very simplified version of a priest’s outfit, you must take it off when eating or going to the bathroom.

  3. ‘Hakui’ – white vest, traditionally what pilgrims were buried in if they died on the trail, known as a death shroud!

  4. ‘Juzu’ – rosary beads, in the form of a bracelet or traditional rosary.

  5. ‘Zudabukuro’ – bag, an over the shoulder bag to carry the sutra booklet, stamp book, name-slips, incense, candles, matches/lighter, food etc.

as well as the following:

  1. ‘Kongozue’ – staff, traditionally used as a grave marker for pilgrims who passed away during the pilgrimage. I took along my pacerpole hiking poles instead as I need two poles for my bad knee.

  2. ‘Noukyocho’ – stamp book, to get a stamp (calligraphy) from each temple

  3. ‘Osame fuda’ – name-slips, you write your name, date and address on the slips and place them in a box outside the main hall and daishi hall at each temple, as well as giving them to other pilgrims and anyone who offers you osettai

  4. ‘Jirei’ – bell, to ring after reciting each sutra. I had one tied onto my backpack and hoped this would scare away any inoshishi (wild boar) on the trails.

  5. Incense sticks, candles and matches to light and place in each temple.

I bought everything on this list except for the staff and the bill came to ¥10,685, which is approximately £60 or USD $100… quite a donation to Temple 1!

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