Sunday, April 6, 2008

Catchup post 3: Shikoku Pilgrimage Part 1 of Day 1, Saturday March 16

My weekend trip to Shikoku island, the smallest of Japan's four major islands (which are Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu) is home to 88 Buddhist temples that Kobo-Dashi had some part in, either founding, supporting, or traveling between. Kobo-Dashi is the savior/master, and founder of Japanese Buddhism. The total pilgrimage takes as long as 60 days by foot because it goes between 88 temples, crosses an island sea, rivers, and mountains for about 900 miles.

We left late Friday the 15th of March, and returned late Sunday the 17th, both times by overnight bus between Tokushima and Tokyo. I doubt if any of us did it for religious reasons, instead we did it for fun, and for a chance to get out of Tokyo and see some different parts of Japan.

I really enjoyed the trek, we spent two days walking in the sun, taking photos, getting lost, exploring the temples, and seeing some Japanese countryside. And, of course, it was good to get to know some of my dorm-mates better.

This is the train we took from Tokushima to Naruto City, where the first temple is.

The inside of the train. The man in the red is a real pilgrim. 

A rice field, taken from inside the train.

Look how tiny and cute that train is!

The entrance to Temple 1, the Ryozenji Temple, the Temple of the Vulture's Peak. 

The pilgrimage was packed, but mostly by people who took it by bus. Few people did it by walking.

A group photo! Not everyone is in it though. Right to Left: Harish, Jen, me, Victoria, Brenden, Jack, Jeremy. And in the back is Brian raising his arms. Missing are Micah and Megan.
Crowded crowded Temple 1. I barely know anything about Buddhism, but these are still beautiful places to visit.

The gardens of Temple 2, Gokurakuji temple, the temple of pure land.

This is probably an important statue. I just like the way it looks. 

Amulets hanging on the board. Not sure what they're for, and I couldn't get a clear explanation from anyone.

The amulet board.

I think we saw probably 50 graveyards, and all of them were really cool to look at.

Sometimes the beauty of a statue is seen in a different way than from how it was intended to be looked at.

We saw a lot of farmland at various stages of care.

Between the temples were several other temples, and even a few shrines. This is a Shinto shrine.

Jack and Jen talking to a Japanese man who A) wanted to sell us stuff, B) wanted to be our friend, C) wanted to tell us about the history of the area. He talked too fast and too informally for us to catch a single thing of what he was saying.

A lion dude guarding the shrine.

Before I left YSU there was an exhibit in the Butler Museum of American Art of a painter who was inspired by Japanese culture, art, and landscape, and a common theme for him was this dead crow on a stick motif.  I'm guessing it is a scarecrow, meant to keep other crows away.

But, whatever it is, it is grotesque. This is the only one I noticed, but I did see a few plastic ones.

Big doggy!

The cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom.

Temple 3, Konsenji temple, the temple of golden spring.  As the trek progressed I became more and more interested in the towns and the people, rather than the temples. 

A little Buddhist!

Another graveyard.

A lot of the buildings we passed were in quite the derelict state. Shops seemed to be closed for years, houses were either really nice or falling apart, and public things, like posters, or signs and such were old.

We found a park! (At a shinto shrine) That's, from left to right, Harish, Jeremy, Megan, and Micah.

Big old tree!
Another graveyard, but I like this photo of it the best.

A woman working her plot of land.

We followed signs like this to our destination temples.

Our train friend with his stuff.

It says something...  in Japanese.

An amulet and a sign.

The trekkers! Jack's in the back, with Jen, victoria, Brenden, Jeremy, Brian, Megan and Harish is in the front. (Don't know where Micah got to)
Every single inch of land had some use. Be it religious, pubic works, or farming.

The trail ahead of us. Honestly, a lot of the time the trail was an asphalt road.

Anyone want a free TV?

Politics are a big deal in rural areas. Politicians often target the conservative rural areas because of how the district lines are drawn and the methods of election it is easier to get elected in a rural area than in an urban area. 

Temple 4 Dainichiji temple, the temple of the golden sun. I took a lot more photographs than I'm posting. I don't really want to overwhelm with temple photos, so I merely selected my favorite.

More prayers at the temple. The guy in the middle, the one not wearing the white, we met him, and he was one of many people who were impressed to see non-Japanese following a Japanese tradition, we met one other non-Japanese person in Tokushima before we made it out to the temples, but beyond that we didn't see any.

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