I recently finished reading The Travelers Guide to Japanese Pilgrimages by Ed Readicker-Henderson. It describes three popular temple pilgrimages in Japan, the Mt. Hiei pilgrimage near Kyoto, the 33 temple Saigoku Kannon temple pilgrimage, and the 88 temple Kobo Daishi temple pilgrimage.
It was interesting to read about pilgrimages in Japan which I was not that familiar with. And the brief descriptions of all the temples was also interesting to read about.
What caught my attention was the great disparity in the prosperity, or lack of, between many of the temples. Some temples on the pilgrimages are extremely well off while others apparently are in such a dilapidated state that they appear to be ready to collapse any day.
It also would seem that most of the temples survive or exist or prosper based primarily on the thousands of pilgrims that pass through each year. The more prosperous temples are usually so well off because of some tradition or religious practice that draws people to the temple. One such practice that is very popular at some of the temples is for potential mother's who are planning to or attempting to have children. Many mother's-to-be come to these temples to pray for a child or a safe birth.
Often, according to the book, the poorest temples are located very near or next to the richest temples. It's a little sad to hear about a temple that was founded over a thousand years ago that is in such a poor and lonely condition. If it was not for the pilgrimage, they most likely would cease to exist.
If anyone is planning to embark on one of these pilgrimages, this is a good book as you can easily take it with you. You can probably also find a lot of other useful guides and information about taking on one of these pilgrimages from the internet.