The Purpose and Significance of Lady Nijō’s Pilgrimages

Chunquan Qiu

Hunan University, Changsha, China

Not long after being expelled from the court, Lady Nijō became a nun and began her pilgrimages to temples and shrines. But her tour was very different from that of the monks in Rutangqiufa Xunlijiand that of the European nuns in Roman Times described in Itinerarium Egeriae. During pilgrimages, Lady Nijō’s heart was not immersed in the pursuit of religious belief, but still attached to the secular world. Most of the time, she was actively involved in groups of poets as a literary intellectual from the capital city. She built her own reputation as a waka poet via imitating the famous poet monk Saigyo’s experience.  We can say that the pilgrimage of Lady Nijō was not driven by Buddhist belief, but by a variety of practical purposes. In the Kamakura Period, it was extremely difficult for women to travel alone. Lady Nijō’s completion of the tour across Japan by herself is highly relevant to her choice of becoming a nun. All in all, becoming a nun and going for pilgrimage were just a method through which she made her waka-creating tour, which is similar to the female poets in China and the Chosun Dynasty.


Chunquan (1986-), is an Assistant professor in College of Foreign Languages, Hunan University. She received her Ph.D. in 2018, Beijin Foreign Studies University。Her research interest is classical Japanese literature.


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