When preparing for the Shikoku pilgrimage (and earlier, when hiking the Kumano Kodo) I stumbled upon a gap in my personal development: I never thoroughly studied local culture, let alone learned some Japanese words. I learned some along the trail and added some more words on the list, reading the amazing “Tales of a summer henro” by Craig McLachlan. So here are some essential Japanese words for hiking in Japan.

Arigato gozaimasThank you very much
Atsu desu neHot, isn’t it (perfect conversation starter)
Dogyo ninin“We go together” (mantra for the Shikoku trail – pretty much like Liverpool’s “you never walk alone”)
FudaPaper name slip, used on the Shikoku trail
GambatteKeep going!
HenroPilgrim (with henro michi being pilgrim trail – mostly applicable to Shikoku, not so much Kumano Kodo)
KonjoGuts, perseverance
Konnichi waHello
MinshukuA small inn or pension
Namu Daishi Henjo KongoHomage to the Saint (Kobodashi, the Buddhist monk founder of the trail) – to be chanted in the temples
NojukuSleeping outside (in contrast to in a minshuku or ryokan)
NokyoTemple seal as collected in an album (nokyocho) by henro, signed in a special temple office (nokyojo)
Ohao gozaimasuGood morning
SentoPublic bathhouse
ShukuboTemple lodging house
TsuraiHard, painful
SettaiAn offering to henro, often in the form of food, drinks or even money. People often offer settai when they can not do the pilgrimage themselves.
OnsenHot spring
RyokanJapanese-style inn

Please let me know if you have other Japanese words to add.


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