Monday, August 14, 2017

Postscript : Our Dual Pilgrim Certificate of the Kumano Kodo and the Camino de Santiago

The Kumano Kodo is one of only two pilgrimage routes  designated as a UNESCO
World Heritage site.  The other (and more popular) one is the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  
Both started  around the 10th century and both  have had millions of pilgrims walk through its
well trodden paths.
One is Shinto, dedicated to the kami or gods of nature and the other is in honour of St. James
or Santiago, one of Jesus' twelve apostles. 
The Kumano Kodo -- tucked away in a remote corner of hidden Japan is perhaps little known to
the pilgrims of the Camino.  However,  its popularity seems to be slowly growing, we met a number of Europeans and even some Americans along the trails.

The pilgrim who has completed the Camino de Santiago earns the Compostela, a small scroll written in Latin that attests to this fact.  The pilgrim who has walked the approved routes of the Kumano Kodo also receives a certificate.
And if you are fortunate to have walked both, you are recognised as a Dual Pilgrim and given a special credential. 
This is available from three  locations along the route ... from the Tanabe Tourist Center, the Hongu Heritage Centre (shown above) and the Kumano Kodo Kan Center in Takijiri.

When we dropped by on a late summer afternoon,  the Heritage Centre was quite devoid of visitors.  
There were no long queues waiting to get their credentials, as you would see in the Pilgrims' Office
in Santiago.  

Getting the certificate was quick and relatively easy.  The Hongu Heritage Center is staffed by volunteers from the community, many of whom are fluent in English.
To qualify for the Dual Pilgrim Certificate,  you should bring some proof that you have earned your Compostela from the Camino de Santiago.  A picture of your compostela is good enough.
You also have to show your passport as further proof of identification.

As in the Camino, stamps from places passed along the way are collected in a booklet.  The completed booklet is needed to show that you have really walked any of the following routes:  
a) the Nakahechi Route, from Takijiri to Hongu Taisha
b) the Nakahechi Route from Hongu Taisha to Nachi Taisha
c) the Nakahechi Route, from Hoshinmon Oji to Hongu Taisha plus stamps from Hayatama Taisha and Nachi Taisha and 
d) the Kohechi route, from Koyasan to Hongu Taisha.

Here are the Amigos holding up our newly minted Dual Pilgrim Certificates.  We also walked the Camino de Santiago together.
With us was the Heritage Center officer and our invaluably helpful Mi-Kumano guides  Wada san and Chika san.

This is the Certificate of Completion given to Dual Pilgrims.  You can get the same certificate in the Pilgrims' Office in Santiago de Compostela if you show proof of having completed the Kumano Kodo.  
Once you get your Certificate, you may be asked for permission to include your photo and pilgrimage details on the Dual Pilgrim website.   

In addition to the Certificate of Completion, Dual Pilgrims also get a commemorative pin showing 
the symbols of both pilgrimages .... the scallop shell of the Camino de Santiago and the Yatagarasu 
or 3 legged crow, a Shinto motif and symbol of the Kumano Kodo.  Both certificate and pin are given gratis and are lovely ways to remember your experiences on the trails. 


I feel doubly privileged to have walked both the Camino de Santiago and the Kumano Kodo. 
Walking through different and sometimes challenging trails, tracing the paths of many who have 
gone before, experiencing and giving thanks for the beauty of your surroundings ...  these are the 
life enhancing gifts that a pilgrimage gives to the pilgrim.   
Walking teaches you mindfulness.   As you walk, you find your way. 

Ultreia et suseia

Lessons learned:
1. If you want the Dual Pilgrim Certificate, do not forget to fill up the booklet with the necessary stamps and bring a 
photo proof of your compostela from the Camino de Santiago.
2. You may get the booklet for stamps from Tanabe, Hongu or Takijiri.  It is given for free.
3. Unlike the Camino which requires you to walk a minimum of 100 kilometres to earn a Compostela, there are a number of options for the Kumano Kodo which require less walking.  The mandatory requirement is a visit to all 3 Grand Shrines. 


No comments:

Post a Comment