Chugoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage  (中国三十三観音霊場 chugoku san-juu-san kannon reijou) was designated a pilgrimage route in 1981. Each of the thirty-three temples on this pilgrimage route worships Kannon, the goddess of mercy.
Although the pilgrimage route officially consists of thirty-three temples, there are an additional four temples considered to be "Special Sacred Temples" (特別霊場 tokubetsu-reijou) that, despite not being given numbers, are considered to be part of the pilgrimage route.
The Chugoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage (chugoku san-juu-san kannon reijou) is a pilgrimage of 37 temples devoted to the Kannon incarnation of Buddha (Kannon is the female god of mercy in Buddhist belief.) There are 33 temples on the main route and 4 special temples. Unlike the Shikoku and Saigoku pilgrimages it does not have a long history but was designated a pilgrimage route in only 1981. So it has been going for about 30 years.
The pilgrimage lacks the gravitas and solemnity of the longer established routes. It also lacks the fun-loving busses full of henro out to enjoy themselves. At times it gives the impression that it has been created on the basis of “the other pilgrimages bring a lot of tourists to their area, perhaps, if we have one, we will get a tourism bonus too.” As a result of its youth it does not have the dense infrastructure of the older routes - promotional material, English language brochures, signposts, ryokans and permanent staff to run stamp issue offices. In some cases it appears to have been forgotten at the temples that they are part of a larger grouping and certainly, the Tourist Information Offices along the route are only dimly aware of it.
There is little in the way of promotional material for the tour. Tourist Information Offices had rarely heard of it. They have a single brochure and the information in it is in Japanese only, Except in a few cases there were few ryokans clustered around the temples and few shukobo (temple lodgings).
The trip is worth doing and some of the temples are themselves very beautiful and some are in spectacular locations. Also the route takes in some very interesting territory, well away from the usual tourist routes.
Touring a temple is sometimes more fun on special occasions and festival days. Below are some festivals and special events held at the temples along the pilgrimage route.
Spring Kannon Matsuri - A festival dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy known for its inclusion of fire-walking (walking on hot coals) held on the second Sunday in February at Ryuzoji Temple in Yamaguchi
Saidaiji Eyo - The infamous Naked Man Festival held at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama Held on the third Saturday in February.
Eshiki Hoyo Originating back in the Muromachi Period it is an intangible cultural property of Okayama Prefecture and one of the top three festivals of its kind featuring a procession and ceremony of gold-masked priests. Held on the third Sunday in April at Tanjoji Temple in Kumenan.