One Hundred Temple Pilgrimage

In 2003, a video series was published in Japan called 百寺巡礼 (hyaku ji junrei), or “One Hundred Temple Pilgrimage”. The official website is here. It was a 25-series DVD set featuring the famous author Itsuki Hiroyuki, touring famous Buddhist temples in Japan, 20 minutes each, 4 per DVD (100 total). Itsuki Hiroyuki, a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist, has often wrote about his faith, and so it made sense for him to be lead this video tour. I had read one of his English language books, Tariki, and so I knew him from before the series.1

My in-laws in Japan knew that I was fascinated by Japanese Buddhism (still am), and kindly gave me full DVD set in 2011 (?). Trouble was, my Japanese back then was still pretty basic level, and while I enjoyed the visuals, I had a hard time following anything. Some of the temples were genuinely fascinating, while others were kind of bland. I didn’t watch it regularly, but every once in a while, I’d dust off another of the DVDs, pop it in and watch over the span of a few nights.

By 2022, my Japanese had improved somewhat, and if I turned on the Japanese subtitles, I could follow along much more easily. It took years, but finally I could actually keep up with what Itsuki Hiroyuki was saying, and the temples really came alive.

At long last, in June of 2022, I finished the last DVD. It was kind of an emotional moment for me. It took me about 11 years to finally get my way through the series. Of course, if I had been more diligent, I could have finished much, much sooner, but the point was that I didn’t give up. In spite of my poor Japanese skills, I kept at it, and gradually it got easier to understand, and easier to follow.2 Plus, Itsuki Hiroyuki, who is now 89 as of writing, has probably long since retired, but he can rest assured that people still enjoy his tour of various temples in Japan, including foreigners like me. 😃

Japan has a rich Buddhist culture, and I wish it was something easier to convey to Westerners, and maybe someday this series will get translated. But even if not, if you ever get a copy, don’t hesitate to watch if you can.

1 It’s an interesting book, especially describing his traumatic time as a post-war child prisoner in Manchuria, but I admit I didn’t agree with some of his staunchly Jodo Shinshu Buddhist views. Still, I respect the guy a lot, and it was really fun to tour (virtually) with him in the video series.

2 Much of the vocabulary also coincides with the N1 level of the JLPT exam rather well. More and more, I believe that you can’t truly enjoy Japanese culture and language until you get to the N1 level of proficiency.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: