Ultra-cute ‘moe’ pilgrims embark on Shikoku’s 88-temple journey in new TV show

Japan Today
Scott R Dixon
MAY. 07, 2014

Ultra-cute 'moe' pilgrims embark on Shikoku’s 88-temple journey in new TV show2014 marks the 1,200th year since Buddhist monk Kukai made his holy journey to 88 temples on the southern Japanese island of Shikoku. The Shikoku Pilgrimage now attracts people from all over Japan as well as the world to visit the same temples along the 1,200 km-route.

Now, a new TV series, “Ohenro,” is out to appeal to a new generation of religious travelers and features three female pilgrims stylized in the ever popular “moe” fashion of super-cute anime characters.

But Japanese netizens, eager to soak up all things “moe,” are wondering if they will have to make their own “holy trip” since only four broadcasters are airing the show!

Although this is hardly the first time “moe” has infiltrated Japanese religious life, the supercute main characters of “Ohenro” are bringing a huge wave of attention to Shikoku and its famous pilgrimage. The 30-minute weekly show, whose title means “pilgrim” in Japanese, is about three girls, Megumi, Chiwa and Mao, who set out to complete the 88-temple journey. Each episode will show a temple and its surroundings as well as the girls’ “interactions” with Shikoku residents and of course, eating the area’s most famous foods.

“Ohenro” actually began as a newspaper column in 2010 in the Tokushima Shimbun as a way to promote the upcoming anniversary. The “moe” characters have also been heavily promoted with a barrage of merchandise like book covers, coffee mugs and water bottles. The girls even helped to attract noodle fans to the 8th Tokushima Ramen Expo last month.

Japanese animation studio Ufotable is producing the show that features the three animated “moe” girls superimposed on top of live-action shots of the temples and their surroundings. And Marika Kono, Yuro Ehara and Nanami Yamashita will be the voices of Megumi, Chiwa and Mao, respectively.

Check out the video here to get a preview of “Ohenro.”

Unfortunately, not everyone in Japan can tune in weekly to see “Ohenro.” Right now only four broadcasters are airing the show and only one isn’t on Shikoku. Japanese netizens are hoping they can convince their local TV station to air the show, but right now they will have to make their own pilgrimage to the broadcast areas of Okayama Broadcasting, Ehime Broadcasting, Kochi Sun Sun Broadcasting or Tokushima Cable Network. “Ohenro” fans will have to tune in every Saturday at 11:15 a.m. in Okayama, every Sunday at 8:55 a.m. in Ehime and Kochi and every Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. in Tokushima.

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