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Kōei Ervin

Your guide to everything spiritual in Shikoku.

Kōei Ervin

Name in Japanese: 弘英
Pronunciation: kōei

Dan “Kōei” Ervin is a regular guide with Shikoku Tours, specialising in the spiritual aspects of Shikoku including the pilgrimage, Buddhism, Shintō, and Shugendō.

After studying Asian religions in his native America and at university in India, Dan came to Japan in 2016, where he learned more about the traditions of Shugendō. After further immersive study, he was ordained a priest in the Shingon school of Buddhism. In keeping with the Asian tradition of taking a new name at an important transition in life, Dan took the Buddhist name Kōei.

When he walks the pilgrimage with visitors to Shikoku, Kōei carries the usual accoutrements of a Henro, a walking pilgrim, and he’ll show you how a pilgrim worships at each temple. As a practitioner of Shugendō, he also carries a beautiful conch shell fitted with a trumpet mouthpiece, and at suitable spots of natural grandeur, he blows this unusual wind instrument to impressive effect. It helps that he learned the trumpet in his teens.

Shikoku has a rich spiritual heritage going back millennia, and the signs and meanings of this heritage are fascinating. But appreciating them requires a certain knowledge of their significance. This is where self-guided tours of Shikoku fall down. After visiting a few temples, you may come to recognise the statue of the fierce character with a sword, flames, and bad teeth. But if there’s nobody to ask, you’ll go home wondering who he was, and what it was all about. Kōei knows all the details. He can explain it in a most diverting manner. If you want the quick version, he’ll oblige. If you want to know the deeper background, he’s been studying it for much of his life, and he’ll certainly oblige. Kōei maintains a blog, Scattered Blossoms, with engaging essays on Buddhist topics.

Besides visiting many of the spiritual sites of Shikoku and western Japan, Kōei enjoys the outdoors in general. He also leads ‘secular’ cycling and hiking tours and his interpretation of the beauty of Shikoku is very well received.

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