Group of 100 Devotees of Koyasan and Kumano


Member Profiles

Former Special Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein
Former special advisor to the Cabinet

Etsuro Honda


I was born in Iwade Town in Naga District, Wakayama Prefecture, (the present-day Iwade City) in 1955. I subsequently lived in Tanabe City, Wakayama City, Yuasa Town, Katsuragi Town, Hashimoto City, and Gobo City , and Shingu City as my father was transferred. My background forms the basis of my love for Wakayama. I had a particularly large number of friends from Koyasan during my three years at Prefectural Hashimoto High School, and I developed a strong feeling of affinity for the place. After graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Tokyo, I joined the Ministry of Finance and experienced working overseas in Moscow; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; New York; and London. I also served as the ambassador to Switzerland for the three years ending in April 2019. From 2012 to 2016, I worked as a special advisor to Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet, in which capacity I offered advice on his “Abenomics” economic policy. My life’s work has been realizing a prosperous Japanese economy, including by revitalizing rural economies.

The source of Japanese spirituality: Koyasan and Kumano

I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations on the 15th anniversary of the registration of “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range” as a UNESCO World Heritage. This cultural heritage is a valuable asset that should be recognized as the source of Japanese spirituality, and it has lived on in both Japan's history and in the Japanese psyche as a constant target of religious devotion. By no means was the value of the place first recognized as a result of its registration as a World Heritage. I have a special connection, as I serve as an advisor to Kongobu-ji Head Temple, the head temple of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism, and to Kumano Hongu Taisha Grand Shrine. During my time as the ambassador to Switzerland, I focused on promoting the depth and beauty of Japanese culture and tradition in Switzerland and Europe, often using Koyasan and Kumano Sanzan as examples. The extremely positive reaction of Swiss people to Koyasan and its pilgrimage routes left a strong impression. Not only the Swiss, but Europeans in general generally have a high level of interest in pilgrimages. I felt that this reflected the high morals and self-discipline that Japan and Europe share. Wakayama has many treasures of the Japanese people that resonate with the world, and I am proud to call it home.

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