Walking Pilgrims

Documentary film / 2006

73 min. / Language: Japanese with English Subtitles


Bilan du Film Ethnographique, Paris / France 2007

Worldfilm Festival of Visual Culture, Tartu / Estonia 2007

NAFA Nordic Anthropological Film Association Festival, Trondheim /

   Norway 2007

RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, Manchester / UK 2007

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich / Germany 2007

Parnu International Documentary Film Festival, Parnu / Estonia 2007

Regard Bleu Filmfestival, Zurich University / Switzerland 2007

Mostra International do Filme Etnografico, Rio de Janeiro / Brazil 2007

International Festival of Ethnological Film, Belgrade / Serbia 2007

Vidovin Festival of Ethnographic and Documentary Film, Tolmin /

   Slovenia 2007

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften, Vienna University / Austria 2007

Scientific Film Festival, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka / Japan 2008

Days of Ethnographic Film, Ljubljana / Slovenia 2008

Etnofilm Cadca 2008, Cadca / Slovakia 2008

Religion Today - International Festival of Cinema & Religion, Trento /

    Italy 2008

Schweizerisch-Japanische Gesellschaft, Zürich / Switzerland 2008

Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Chicago / USA 2009

ICOSS, University of Sheffield / UK 2009

Kyoto University, Kyoto / Japan 2009

T.H.I.S. Buddhist Filmfestival, Singapore 2009

Aleksandar-Sasa Petrovic Film Festival, Banja Koviljaca / Serbia 2009

Days of Ethnographic Cinema, Moscow / Russia 2009

Musée Guimet, Paris / France 2011



For over a thousand years, the Shikoku Henro pilgrimage has connected 88 sacred places along a circular route of 875 miles around Shikoku, Japan’s fourth largest island.

Shot over a period of nine months and based on ethnographic survey methods, this film reveals in an intimate manner, the motives, aims and desires of modern Japanese people as they follow this Buddhist pilgrimage.

The filmmakers themselves walked the entire route, accompanying various different pilgrims through long stages of their journeys.

Not only are the experiences of the pilgrims themselves documented, but also impressions and observations of Shikoku residents, priests and academic experts.

Presenting the pilgrimage as a microcosm, ARUKIHENRO offers profound insights into the religious and socio-cultural background of modern Japanese society whilst at the same time pointing to the universal human quest for self-knowledge.



Tommi Mendel

director, research, camera, sound, editing

Atsuko Toda

interviews, translations

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