Atwood 115 Fig. 8 Fudozakaguchi Nyonindo_detail

Memoirs from the Road: Yamanashi Shigako, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, and Women’s Pilgrimage to Mount Kōya

Sara Atwood

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On 13 March 1792, Yamanashi Shigako (1738-1814) left home on a pilgrimage to Ise Shrine with her fourth son Tōhei, and an attendant. After visiting Ise, they continued to Kyoto, Uji, Nara, and Yoshino before heading towards Mount Kōya. This article combines Shigakos diary with images and text from the often overlooked, Kii no Kuni meisho zue (Illustrated collection of famous places in Kii Province) to visualise her experience as a female pilgrim to Mount Kōya in the Edo Period (1603-1868).

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Yamanashi Shigako was born into a sake brewing family in Iharamura, Suruga Province (contemporary Shizuoka Prefecture).1 Shigako was a prominent figure in the region during her lifetime and was also regarded as a famous waka poet. In the roughly three months she spent on the road during peak flower season, Shigako composed over eighty waka poems in her travel diary, Haru no michikusa (Dawdling along Spring Roads).2 Though she and her companions visited numerous sightseeing spots and pilgrimage sites during their travels, this article focuses on the section of her diary where she recounts her visit to Mount Kōya and explores the significance of Mount Kōya and women’s pilgrimage to the temple complex, the history of meisho zue, and the Kii no Kuni meisho zue.

Mount Kōya and Women’s Exclusion

Mount Kōya, the headquarters of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, was founded in 816 by the monk Kūkai (774-835), known posthumously as Kōbō Daishi. In 819, he held a consecration ceremony to cleanse the area and purge it of all evils within seven ri in each of the four cardinal directions, thus establishing Mount Kōyas earliest kekkai (boundary).3 This perimeter originally prevented anyone considered ritually unclean from ascending and entering the monastery; however, over time it came to exclude women only and became known as nyonin kekkai (women’s boundary).

Because women were restricted to the foot of the mountains, female Buddhist practitioners had to find other ways and places to worship. Several temples in the area developed a reputation as nyonin Kōya (women’s Kōya), where women were allowed to pray inside. The most famous of these was Jison’in, located at the base of Mount Kōya in a small town near the Kii River called Kudoyama. It was also founded in 816, and served as an administrative base to facilitate the construction and operation of Kongōbu-ji, the head temple atop the mountain, as well as a place for monks to train during the cold winter months.4 Kōbō Daishi’s mother is said to have lived at Jison’in, and nine times a month, her son trekked over twenty kilometres from the main temple atop the mountain to visit her, hence the name of the town, Kudoyama (Nine Times Mountain). Following her death, Kōbō Daishi had a vision that his mother transformed into the Bodhisattva Miroku (Maitreya), so he built a mausoleum in her honour, carved a statue of Miroku, and enshrined his mother’s spirit within the Mirokudō (Miroku Hall).5 Jison is another name for Miroku, so the temple became known as Jison’in.6

At one point, Jison’in marked the closest to Mount Kōya that women could access. This temple was also the starting point of the Chōishi Michi pilgrimage route, the most popular path up the mountain until the Edo Period. While the exact dates are unknown, the boundary restricting women’s movements shifted further up the mountainside over the centuries, with the new nyonin kekkai surrounding the innermost parts of the monastery at the seven entrances from the main pilgrimage routes. Special halls called nyonindō (women’s halls) were constructed at these entrances to allow women to stay the night and pray as close to Mount Kōya as permitted. Women could also make a pilgrimage along the mountains in a route known as the nyonin michi (women’s trail), which connected each of the nyonindō. The seven women’s halls remained until the early twentieth century; however, only one is still extant, Fudōzakaguchi nyonindō. Due to the style of this hall, its construction has been dated to the late Muromachi Period (1336-1573).7

Meisho zue and their Significance

Meisho zue (Illustrated Guidebooks to Famous Places) developed in the latter part of the eighteenth century, though their creation has roots in much older cultural traditions. Conventionally, places of particular literary, historical, or religious significance, like Mount Kōya, became known as meisho (famous places) after being featured in waka poetry.8 They were depicted in meisho-e, as in screen or panel paintings (byōbu-e and shōji-e) since the Heian Era (794-1185), before being illustrated in monochromatic meisho zue.9 These books provided images (zu) and textual commentaries (mondan) about different meisho and areas of significance in various provinces and cities.

One of the first meisho zue was Akisato Ritō’s Miyako meisho zue from 1780, which featured famous sites in Kyoto. This book became so popular that Akisato created guidebooks about different areas, and soon other publishers followed suit.10 While much of their textual information is drawn from archival sources like gazetteers (fudoki), editors and illustrators conducted extensive travel and on-site surveys to create supplemental imagery to the written source material.11 The artists producing these meisho zue were often less well-known than other ukiyo-e artists, like Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) who produced polychromatic meisho prints of different areas across Japan, though the visual language used to depict these meisho was shared by both types of artist.12

Due to their size and number of volumes, meisho zue were not designed to be used on the road by travellers, but were considered reliable reference materials that could be consulted before or after one’s journey.13 They also served as means of virtual travel (gayū), allowing readers to simulate the experience of exploring distant lands, without the financial burden or physical exertion of actually leaving the comfort of one’s home.14 The term gayū literally means to lie down and go, though it also can be used to refer to “an imaginary experience of travel mediated by artistic or literary media”.15

This type of virtual travel was especially important to women and children, as it was often extremely difficult for them to explore the outside world on their own. In fact, several editors of meisho zue, including Akisato, specifically mention compiling these works “for the amusement of children and women”.16 Because these guides were so popular among people of all ages, demographics, and genders, they were circulated throughout the country, reaching well beyond the areas they depicted. For example, a copy of Akisatos Settsu meisho zue from 1798, which depicts sights in and around Osaka, was discovered in a library in Nagasaki, and the Daisō lending library of Nagoya contained several copies of various guides from around the country, including the Kii no Kuni meisho zue.17

Kii no Kuni meisho zue

This illustrated guidebook to Kii Province (contemporary Wakayama Prefecture) is considered one of the more ambitious meisho zue ever compiled.18 It was organised by Takechi Shiyū (1751-1823), who is better known by his trade name as a publisher in Wakayama, Obiya Ihei. He began preparations for this guide in the mid-1790s, securing a certificate from the local authorities in 1796, which guaranteed his bona fides and explained why he was travelling around the countryside with an artist.19 The first four series of the Kii no Kuni meisho zue, totalling twenty-three volumes, were published in four stages between 1811 and 1851. The fifth series, comprised of four volumes depicting the Kumano region, was always planned but wasn’t fulfilled until its publication between 1937-1943. This brings the Kii no Kuni meisho zue’s total number of volumes to a staggering twenty-seven.20

The third series, published in 1838, was edited by Takechi Shibun (dates unknown), who continued to use his father’s trade name.21Kanō Morihira (1806-57), a waka poet and Kokugaku scholar, also served as an editor for the series, which features illustrations by multiple artists: Nishimura Chūwa (d.1830), Ikeda Tōri (1788-1857), Shitomi Kangyū (d.1843), Ono Hirotaka (1808-77), and Ueda Kōchō (1788-1850).22 This third series contains seven volumes, four of which are dedicated to Mount Kōya. They map the approach to the complex from the seven pilgrimage routes, making them useful for in-person and virtual travellers across Japan. There are images of the temples and shrines in the areas leading up to Mount Kōya itself, depictions of legends and festivals, as well as textual information about important places, events, and so on. Many of the illustrations are embellished with waka or haiku poems written by men and women who had visited the area, which adds a lovely emotional element and maintains the connection between poetry and the development of meisho.

Atwood Andon 115 Fig. 1 Kamuro

1. Kamuro, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

Yamanashi Shigako and Dawdling along Spring Roads

Returning to the central figure of our story, Shigako wrote on 19 April 1792 that she and her party left Inukaisan Henjōji in Gojō, Yamato Province (modern-day Nara Prefecture), headed to the Yoshino River, and boarded a boat bound for Kii Province.23 They reached the ferry crossing at Kamuro, a popular post-town on the Kyo-Osaka Michi, the most popular pilgrimage route to Mount Kōya during the Edo Period. While in Kamuro, they stopped at Nintokuji, where illustrated maps of Mount Kōya and the Ishidōmaru engi (origin story) were being published and sold to pilgrims by temple monks.24 While Shigako does not mention buying either of these, she may have at least taken a glance and gotten an idea of what the journey ahead would entail.

Atwood Andon 115 Fig. 2 Kanemura

2. Kanemura, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

When Shigako and her group left Nintokuji and started their trek up the mountain, the first landmark she mentions passing by is the Daishi koromo iwa, the rock upon which Kōbō Daishi laid his clothes out to dry after having been caught in a sudden rain shower. Continuing along the path, they crossed the Sengoku Bridge and arrived at the village of Kanemura. According to passages in the Kii no Kuni meisho zue, the town was located in a valley shaped like a chemist’s mortar, meaning it was boat-shaped, long and narrow with steep slopes. There were many places for travellers to stay in the village and was one ri away from the post-town, Kamiya.

After leaving Kanemura, they walked up and down the mountainside, trudging up the incredibly steep Samizuzaka Slope, passing by the hebi iwa (snake rock) before finally reaching Kamiya.25 Rows of teashops lined the streets of this popular stopover for pilgrims. Numerous inns were built overlooking the rocks and trees of the deep valley below, the most beautiful of which was called Hanaya Ichibei, the former residence of a sake brewer. Shigako mentions a machiya (traditional wooden townhouse) atop the mountain, perhaps referring to the Sakura Teahouse shown nestled in the trees above the town. This area was known for its many cherry trees that flowered in March and April, so Shigako may have been able to see the blossoms while wandering Kamiya’s streets.

Atwood Andon 115 Kamiya

3. Kamiya, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

When Shigako’s group returned to the road, they began one of the most strenuous parts of the climb. The first obstacle was the shi sun iwa (four sun rock), a very narrow crevice in a large boulder where it was difficult to put even one foot in front of the other and squeeze through. The name of this rock comes from two dents in the stone about 4 sun, roughly 12 centimetres, in length, which were said to be the footprints of Kōbō Daishi. In the meisho zue illustration, we can see a man grimacing attempting to wedge himself through the tight space. Approaching the boulder from the opposite direction, two women wait for the man to pull himself out before they can attempt to scramble through single file themselves.

Atwood Andon 115 Fig. 4 Four sun Rock

4. Shi sun iwa, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

After successfully navigating through this difficult part of the trail and crossing the Fudō Bridge, Shigako’s next challenge was climbing up the steep, winding Fudōzaka Slope. Along the way, they passed Chigo no Taki, a one thousand seki (foot) high waterfall on the left-hand side of the trail. It has a sad history, as the Kii no Kuni meisho zue states that long ago a chigo (temple page boy) leapt to his death from the falls. Continuing up the path, they reached Hanaori, where two large sandstone vases stood on either side of the road. The inscriptions on each vase indicate that one was dedicated to Kōbō Daishi, and the other to the four Shinto deities of Mount Kōya.26 As recorded in the meisho zue, pilgrims would place fresh flowers in the vases as offerings before continuing to the temple complex. In the illustration, despite the small size within the larger landscape, flowers are clearly visible inside the vases. While Shigako does not say whether or not she made an offering, chances are high that the vases had devotional flowers inside them when she walked past.

            When Shigako and her party finally reached the top of the Fudōzaka Slope, they were greeted by a giant statue set in front of the nyonindō, known as the Otake Jizō, and the largest cast bronze figure at Mount Kōya. It was commissioned by Yokoyama Take, a widow from Moto-Iidamachi near Edo, and was completed in Enkyō 2 (1745). Take had come to Mount Kōya to pray for her deceased husband and stayed at the Fudozakaguchi nyonindō. That night, Jizō appeared to her in a dream and inspired her to build the statue.

Fig. 5 Chigo no Taki and Hanaori

5. Fudōzaka Slope with Chigo no Taki and Hanaori, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.
National Diet Library,

Fig. 6 Otake Jizo

6. Otake Jizō, cast bronze statue, commissioned by Yokoyama Take, 1745.

Author’s own photograph.

The Kii no Kuni meisho zue describes this nyonindō as a place where female pilgrims from all over the country could lodge and mentions that it is the largest of the seven women’s halls. It adds that the discussion on women’s exclusion from the sacred mountain since ancient times is too detailed to be included, but “for the ladies’ sake” (joji no tame ni) a brief summary will be given: because even the most pious of monks can be led into temptation by a woman’s presence, women are prohibited from entering Mount Kōya, just as men are not allowed inside a nunnery. However, it does offer some hope by stating that if a truly virtuous woman climbs the mountain, stays at the nyonindō and prays devotedly, she will soon be rewarded with enlightenment.

            While the other nyonindō are generically depicted throughout the Kii no Kuni meisho zue, the Fudōzakaguchi nyonindō is the only women’s hall to be featured not only within a larger landscape setting but to also receive its own detailed illustration. The single-page landscape image shows the nyonindō at the summit of the Fudōzaka (fig. 7), with small figures milling about the area and trekking up and down the mountain path. In the detailed picture (fig. 8), however, we are presented with more information regarding the layout of the area. We can see many different visitors to the hall, including a group of men and a woman who are entering the space from the Kyo-Osaka Michi at the bottom left, next to a Buddhist statue. Interestingly, due to the cranial bump (ushnisha) and ‘snail-shell’ curls, the figure depicted here appears to be a Buddha, rather than the Otake Jizō.27

Fig. 7 Fudozakaguchi Nyonindo and Trail

7. Map from Fudōzaka to Kamuro (first page), Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

Fig. 8 Fudozakaguchi Nyonindo

8. Fudōzakaguchi nyonindō, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838. National Diet Library,

Despite this inaccuracy, the image still presents a clear picture of what daily life was like at the most frequented nyonindō. In front of the women’s hall, two women are praying, while a man stands beside them. Two other women are sitting at the nyonindō, engrossed in conversation, while a third woman is shown smoking a pipe while relaxing on the edge of the Fudō Hall. Two small dogs, one black and one white, are seen near the gate to the main complex on the right, perhaps as a reference to the legend that a pair of similar hunting dogs guided Kōbō Daishi to Mount Kōya. Two women stand in front of the gate looking on, while several men pass beyond it and begin their descent into the sacred valley.

            The upper left-hand corner of the print contains two haiku poems. The poem on the left was written by Matsuo Kaitei (1732-1815), a feudal lord and haiku master from Kii Province.28 The poem reads “kaki muite, orukemo awareya, nyonindō”. This may describe a scene in which Matsuo was deeply moved by someone simply being at the nyonindō and peeling a persimmon. The one on the right is attributed to Onna Konoha (dates unknown), a student of Matsuo who travelled around Kii Province with her teacher in 1788.29 Her poem, “yobukodori, nakuya ukarenu, sugi no oku”, roughly translates to “The cries of the cuckoo float from deep within the cedars”. As with the other haiku throughout the book, they add a more personal touch to the pictures.

            Returning to Shigako, as was customary at the time, the two men in her party crossed the nyonin kekkai into Mount Kōya, where they would have been able to register at a temple, walk through the okunoin (innermost sanctuary) and pray at Kōbō Daishi’s mausoleum, before finding lodging for the night. If Tōhei chose to sign in at a temple, he could have also written his mother’s name, adding tono at the end, indicating Shigako’s “temporary status as an honorary male” and giving her “spiritual credit” for her pilgrimage.30 Shigako however, simply had to content herself with staying the night at the nyonindō and waiting until the following morning for her male travel companions to tell her what it was like beyond the gates. While at the hall, she met another woman who had ventured to the monastery from Higo Province (modern-day Kumamoto Prefecture). They ended up chatting until daybreak, though Shigako does not share any specifics of their conversation.

Fig. 9 View of Danjo Garan from Dake Benzaiten

9. View of the Danjō Garan from across the valley, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

Although it was near the end of April, the strong winds made it feel as cold as mid-winter. Gradually, the morning sun began to shine brightly, and Shigako could see the plum blossoms from between the cedar trees. Relying on a guide, Shigako walked alongside the mountains and rivers, before reaching the Shinto shrine Dake Benzaiten at the summit of Mount Benten. Looking south across the valley, she was able to see the Konpon Daitō (Great Pagoda) in the Danjō Garan, the central temple complex and heart of Mount Kōya. Her guide informed her that there was another nyonindō further down the trail, en route to the daimon, the main gate of the monastery. The Kii no Kuni meisho zue includes an illustration looking down onto the Danjō Garan from the northern side of the valley. While it doesn’t mention the Dake Benzaiten Shrine on that page, the Daimonguchi nyonindō is included in the landscape, so it is possible the viewpoint is from the shrine only five hundred metres up the hill from the women’s hall.

At this point, Shigako and her party began their descent down the mountain via the Chōishi Michi. However, had she continued along the nyonin michi roughly another two kilometres past the daimon, she would have reached a point called Rokuro Tōge, or Long-necked Pass. The reference in the text of the Kii no Kuni meisho zue is brief: it simply says that the Ōtakiguchi nyonindō is located just to the north and that the trail connects to the Kumano Kōdō; however, it also includes an illustration of the area with female pilgrims as the main focus, which is worth discussing before returning to Shigako.

Fig. 10 Rokuro Toge

10. Rokuro Tōge, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

The description given on the upper right side of the illustration explains the significance of the peak. It states that if one embarks on a pilgrimage along the path connecting the women’s halls (nyonindō meguri), they will come to this peak from which the Danjō Garan is visible far below. In this image, we see a group of three women and three men who have paused their trek around the nyonin michi. The women are doing exactly as the pass’s name suggests and are peering down at the inner precinct of Mount Kōya. One of the three men seems to be acting as a guide and is pointing out the important landmarks to the curious women. The other two men on the right are more interested in sitting with the luggage and smoking, so they may be chaperones or servants, rather than guides. Also, at the bottom right, we see two more women and a man approaching this viewpoint, where they will presumably stop and take in the scene as well.

            A humorous kyōka poem written by Sansumi (dates unknown) at the top left contains a delightful play on words about the scene. It reads “bakemono no, rokuro tōge ni, ounatachi, kubi sashinobete, ogamu danjō”, meaning “Ghastly women atop Rokuro Pass, sticking out their necks, and revering the temple below”.31 Rokurokubi is a type of supernatural monster, yōkai or bakemono, with an extremely long neck, that is often featured in ghost stories. The pun on the names of the pass and the monster emphasises how much women had to stretch their necks to see the inner precinct below them. The views of the Danjō Garan from the Rokuro Tōge and Dake Benzaiten Shrine appear to have been the best that women were able to see at this time. However, it was still probably rather difficult for women to determine which building was which from such a distance, so having a guide accompany them to point out the various landmarks would have been beneficial. To get an even closer look, they could also use the Kii no Kuni meisho zue, either before their physical pilgrimage or as a virtual travel experience.

Fig. 11 kagami ishi

11. Kagami ishi, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

We left Shigako as she began her descent from the mountain temple down a slope known as Hanazaka. The valleys on either side of the path were full of cherry blossoms in full bloom, and nightingales could be heard calling to each other through the trees. Shigako was so moved by this scene that she composed the following waka: “iya takaki, minori no yama no, yamazakura, sakiniou hana ni, uguisu no naku”, “high on the sacred mountain, wild cherry blossoms bloom and warblers sing”. As Shigako and her party continued down the trail, they passed the kagami ishi (mirror stone), neji ishi (twisted rock), oshiage ishi (uplifted rock), and kesakake ishi (monk’s stole-draping stone), all of which are famous rock formations. According to the Kii no Kuni meisho zue, the kagami ishi is a bright, warm, flat stone which reflects all objects as if it were a mirror, which is proof that the mountain is a sacred place, suitable for practising Esoteric Buddhism. It is also said that if one were to sit on the stone and chant a mantra, one would gain the full realm of the Dharma.           

Fig. 12 Neji ishi and oshi age ishi

12. Landscape with neji ishi, and oshi age ishi, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

Fig. 13 oshi age ishi

13. Oshi age ishi, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

The other three stones are connected to the same legend involving Kōbō Daishi’s mother. There are several different variations to the tale, but in the Kii no Kuni meisho zue, the story is as follows:

As word spread that Kōbō Daishi was building a great pagoda atop Mount Kōya, his mother was overjoyed and so decided to climb the sacred mountain. Kōbō Daishi met her on the mountain and explained to her that all women were forbidden from entering Mount Kōya; however, she refused to be dissuaded. Therefore, Kōbō Daishi removed his kesa, laying it on a nearby rock, and said if she really wanted to proceed, she had to step over it. As she did, clouds caused by her five hindrances (goshō no kumo) rolled in, the mountains and valleys shook with thunder, and a great dragon appeared in a rain of fire. Being so bitterly disappointed at being prevented from progressing any further, she twisted the stone beside her, creating the neji ishi. At that time, Kōbō Daishi recited a secret scripture and pushed up a large boulder to shield his mother from the flames. This stone is known as the oshiage ishi, and it is said that his handprint is still visible on the rock face. After this remarkable series of events, his mother finally accepted she that could not climb the mountain, and when she turned to go back down, the rain of fire ceased.

This story took place long before the nyonin kekkai moved beyond this point, but there is no mention of when the boundary shifted.

As Shigako took the same path down the mountain as Kōbō Daishi’s mother all those years ago, she passed by two large torii gates standing atop a hill, before stopping to visit Amano Shrine, also known as Niutsuhime Shrine. She then proceeded down a steep slope and reached another temple. In her diary, this place is written as Nison’in, probably a mis-transcription. Because Shigako’s descent from Mount Kōya followed the Chōishi Michi, the temple she arrived at would have been Jison’in, the nyonin Kōya mentioned earlier.

Name Fig. 14 Amano Yashiro

14. Amano Yashiro, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,

Shigako says that she visited the temple, so assuming it was in fact Jison’in, she may have worshipped at the Miroku Hall. Unfortunately, she probably would not have been able to see the famous Miroku statue itself, as it has been kept behind closed doors for centuries, only being displayed once every twenty-one years, a tradition which continues today. After leaving the temple, Shigako says they stayed the night at an inn across the street. According to the Kii no Kuni meisho zue, there were many tea houses and inns in front of Jison’in’s main gate. The next day, Shigako and her companions walked back to the Kii River, got on another boat, and travelled downstream to their next destination, so we will part ways with her here as well.

Fig. 15 Jison'in

15. Jison’in, Kii no Kuni meisho zue, Takechi Shibun (Obiya Ihei), et al., 1838.

National Diet Library,


            Looking at the landmarks Shigako mentions in her diary, we can see the exact route she took to and from Mount Kōya. More importantly, by comparing her journal with various illustrations and text from the Kii no Kuni meisho zue, we can clearly visualise her pilgrimage to Mount Kōya and understand the importance of the specific sites mentioned in her diary. Even though the Mount Kōya volumes were published forty-six years after Shigako’s trip, the preparatory work for the meisho zue began only four years after her visit, and the locations she describes are beautifully rendered within the guidebook’s pages.

            The Kii no Kuni meisho zue gives us a glimpse into Edo period women’s pilgrimage to Mount Kōya and how much of the temple complex they were actually able to see. This guidebook demonstrates that despite not being allowed within the confines of the monastery itself, women were able to partake in a meaningful pilgrimage by visiting nyonindō and traversing the nyonin michi. For women at the time, this guide offered more than beautiful illustrations and information about an inaccessible place: they were able to experience pilgrimage to the temple complex vicariously through the images and text within its pages. Perhaps seeing illustrations of women enjoying themselves at these sites or hearing about various travels, like Shigako’s, would have encouraged other women to visit Mount Kōya in person as well. Of course, there is still much to be uncovered on this topic, but through further careful examination of womens travel diaries, meisho zue, and other similar works, we can continue to investigate this understudied theme.