Ok, so we are talking about what the Ohenro wears in some detail. The last couple blogs were about the garb and tools that the Shikoku pilgrim uses at each temple. But there is more! Yes, much more! I have so much I want to share with you.

Let’s look at the Ohenro headwear. The conical hat. You will notice that there is a lot of writing on the top of it, but what does it all mean? Allow me a few lines here to help sort it out. My Japanese is not professional, by any stretch of the imagination. Even in a lot of everyday conversation I find so much to be lacking in my own proficiency. Nevertheless, I shall slavishly push forward and do what I can with the limits of my linguistic powers and hopefully be of some small assistance.

First of all there is the script with the single character. That is as Sanskrit character that has the sound of “Yu”. It is a representative character that includes Guanyin Bodhisattva, Akasagarbha Bodhisattva, Maitreya Bodhisattva, and Koubou Daishi.

Guanine Bodhisattva is commonly known as Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy.

Akasagarbha Bodhisattva is known in Japan as Kokūzō Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of Space.

Maitreya Bodhisattva is known in Japan as Miroku Bosatsu, the Bodhisattva of fulfilled Dharma yet to come.

So, these three significant Bodhisattvas and Koubou Daishi are combined in a single character.

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Look at this image. The single character at “6:00” is “Yu“, the one that we just talked about. At “12:00” is the phrase “Dougyou Ninin” which means that “Two are walking together”, and Koubou Daishi is your traveling companion.

At “2:00” is the phrase, “Izukonika Nanboku-Aran” which can be loosely translated as “Because there is no such thing as South or North, abandon your worry and live freely”.

At “4:00” is the phrase, “Mayouga-Yueni Sankaiha-Shiro” which can be casually translated as, “Because you are imprisoned by desires, you cannot escape from the three realms”.

At “7:00” is the phrase, “Satoruga-Yueni Juppouha-Kuu” which is poorly rendered as “When you arrive at your enlightenment, you will see a world that is free and peaceful”.

Finally, at the “10:00” position, “Honrai Touzai-Nashi” which is awkwardly presented as, “In the original world there was no such thing as East or West. These things were decided only by men”.

I hope that this helps you understand a little more on your journey, and also please let me caveat this blog with the disclaimer that all mistranslations are mine, errors in understanding are mine, and I ask that if you are more knowledgable about the information here on this blog, please do not hesitate to let me know where I have erred. That kind of feedback is always gratefully received.

Walk safely friends and neighbours!

Mark