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Friday, April 01, 2016

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 3 The Mito Peninsula

A Walk Around Shodoshima
Day 3 The Mito Peninsula
Saturday December 26

It's another beautiful sunny day as I begin the third day of my walk along the Shodoshima pilgrimage route. From my guest house I take the bus a few kilometers to Kusukabe Port and head into the small side streets just inland. Here I find temples 22 and 23, Minemoyana-an and Hondo, not far apart.

Hondo was quite delightful, a simple, square, wooden hall with an old Chinese style tile roof, made all the better by the golden shafts of the sunrise illuminating it. Back to the main road and I head west along the coast for about a kilometer before heading into the small village. There are a group of four temples here, 24 through 27, in a little over a kilometer of walking.

Hondo-ji at sunrise.
Hondo-ji at sunrise
The first, Anyoji, is a small rural style temple. All the buildings are low without the large roofs typical of temples. There is a Daishi Hall here and a damn dog that will not stop yapping. From here the signs point up a footpath that climbs through the woods to a small hermitage, Seiganji-an, unreachable by car.

A little further along the path and there is a sacred spring with a statue of Kobo Daishi in one small structure and a large Jizo in another. There are hundreds of springs connected to Kobo Daishi, but this one seems to be particularly well known. Asphalt begins again here and its downhill to another small hermitage, number 27, and then a small temple, Amidaji, before rejoining the main road.

Late December and still a hint of autumn color at Anyoji.
Anyoji Temple, Shodoshima
Six temples in two hours. Along the main road I pass the entrance to Olive Park, one of the main resorts on the island. Sticking up above the olive orchards is what I presume to be a fake windmill. I also pass the youth hostel that I had hoped to base myself at but they are closed for renovations.

After half an hour of the busy main road I turn off and head down the Mito Peninsula. There is almost no traffic as the coast road climbs above a succession of little fishing villages. The views back along the Shodoshima coast and across to Shikoku are delightful in the golden light.

I pass a line of about twenty TV antennas planted along the side of the road. Down below is a small fishing village and I guess they would not get any reception otherwise. It's a very pleasant walk snaking down the coast and then I reach Mito, a small village in a relatively wide valley. I find temple 28, Yakushi-Do, in front of a big cemetery and next to the local shrine.

The ferry from Takamatsu coming into Kusakabe Port.
The ferry from Takamatsu coming into Kusakabe Port
In the little rest area I check my maps, have a hot drink from the vending machine and ponder my choices. The next temple is on the other side of the peninsula, and the coast road carries on down to where the land narrows before cutting over. The pilgrim signs point to the footpath that goes up the mountain in front of me.

I opt to follow the pilgrim trail that switchbacks up through the narrow lanes of the village occupying the lower slopes. I am soon out of the village and climbing steeply through the woods. Once up top the path follows the ridge with steep slopes dropping away on both sides. I pass a monument where Kobo Daishi met a local man and then the path starts to descend.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 2 Afternoon

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