Course Description

This course explores traditional and new forms of pilgrimages in China and Japan. In particular, it examines two kinds of pilgrimages: traditional ones to sacred mountains, sanctuaries, and other religious pilgrimage sites, on the one side, and pilgrimages to memorials that commemorate immense natural and human catastrophes in Sendai (3/11 earthquake and tsunami), Hiroshima (dropping of the first atomic bomb), and Nanjing (1937/8 massacre), on the other. What connects these two kinds of pilgrimages is the importance attributed to memory, the desire for healing, and the need for reflection. The goal of this course is to investigate the religious and political dimensions of memory, self-cultivation, and contemplation. The course accomplishes this goal by examining questions such as: What is the social dimension of religious pilgrimages? What is the moral dimension of memory? And what is the spiritual dimension of healing and reconciliation?