The author demonstrates how a Buddhist pilgrimage tradition affected symbolic and social changes in early modern Japan. After exploring the history of the Saikoku pilgrimage and its practice in the Tokugawa period, he suggests that Victor Turner's theories of “communitas” and “liminality,” while adequately explaining the “social modality” of the pilgrimage, do not account for the religious and cultural paradigms encountered by the pilgrim. To understand these paradigms, eighteenth and nineteenth century pilgrim guides are analyzed to show how the semantic field of the pilgrim integrated the universal salvation of Buddhism with a distinctly national tradition.

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