Name In Japanese : 先達
Pronunciation : sendatsu
Period : Current
A sendatsu is a guide who is experienced and knowledgeable in the pilgrimage. They have to have completed the walking pilgrimage at least four times.
The sendatsu provides detailed instruction on how to worship at the temple and how to say the sutras. They can also tell you all sorts of interesting stories about the temples and the journey between them. The sendatsu is identified by their red staff embellished with rings.
In the days before widespread literacy, the guidance of a sendatsu was necessary to undertake the pilgrimage. In recent times, guidebooks have largely eliminated the requirement for sendatsu, and so they tend to limit their activities to accompanying groups on buses. There are also taxi drivers who are qualified as sendatsu.