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Shikoku Island is famous for the Kobo Daishi pilgrimage.

Modern henro (pilgrims) walk, bike or bus around the entire island, visiting 88 Buddhist temples. They may wear t-shirts and sneakers, but in the spring you can often see busloads of henro in white clothing, wearing broad hats and carrying staffs. The mottos "Dogyo ninin" and "Namu Daishi Henjo Konjo" - meaning "Daishi and I, going together" and "I put my faith in Daishi" - are printed in big characters on this clothing.

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On Thursday Suzuki-san wore a tight neon green t-shirt to tea ceremony practice. She was taking the class to improve her resume, she told me.

I wore a red sweater, and wondered if the two of us looked like Christmas in that small room, lined up with the other students sitting seiza along the sliding door panels. The tatami mats cushioning the concrete floor were edged in black (traditional for tea ceremony rooms), matching the glossy black finish of the large karyoke machine pushed against one wall. Suzuki-san whispered to me that the town was too small to have a karyoke bar, so many parties and meetings took place in this room.

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