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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 5 Around Tonosho Part II

A Walk Around Shodoshima
Day 5 Part II, Around Tonosho
Monday December 28th

As I head towards the pagoda at Saikoji I don't bother looking for signs as it is clearly visible. I take a left down a narrow lane and then begins a 15 minute journey as I try to find my way to it. I have unwittingly entered "maze town" - a section of the old town that is truly maze like.

Main Gate to Saikoji Temple, Shodoshima.
Main Gate to Saikoji Temple, Tonosho, Shodoshima
I end up walking around and around and finally end up at the base of the small rise that the pagoda is on but there is construction work going on and access is blocked. I keep going around and eventually arrive at the vermillion temple gate.

From the temple, access to the pagoda is also blocked by construction. Getting out was much easier than getting in - I should have looked for the sign. The next temple is further along the main road towards Tonosho Port. This time I carefully look for signs.

I can see on the map where it should be, but there is no sign. Instead I wander up some steps through a torii, Shinto gateway, to visit the little shrine. On my way down I follow a little side path and find the small temple building, number 64, Matsukaze-an. Carrying on, passing the headquarters of the Shodoshima Pilgrimage Association, the next two stops are on the hillside above the port.

Finding them is no easy task as it is once again a maze of narrow lanes and alleys. At one point the narrow road gets steeper and steeper and I realize I'm on the wrong road. Eventually I ask a local and get easy directions. Daijo Den and Renge An are two small structures side by side. There are also several other small shrines and halls at the site. There are a few nice statues and a view over the harbour. Not far away is a large shrine and I stop in for an explore before heading up the hill and over the pass down to the south coast.

Statue of Kobo Daishi outside Kodokutsu Temple.
Statue of Kobo Daishi outside Kodokutsu Temple
Off to the left is the cluster of hotels around the start of the Angel Road, but before I head right down the coast I need to find the next small stop on the pilgrimage, Kanro-an, number 59. Now its just a few kilometers down the quiet coast road until the little fishing village of Yanagi and the next temple, Kodokutsu, located at the base of a cliff with a long concrete breakwater protecting the harbour.

The entrance is marked by a vermillion torii, which suggest a shrine rather than a temple, but that is because the enshrined deity here is Benzaiten, an originally Hindu Goddess with both Shinto and Buddhist associations.

This is another of the cave temples that are so numerous here on Shodoshima, but this time a sea cave rather than a mountain cave. Just as I arrive the old priest apologizes as he has to go off on an errand, so I am left to explore by myself.

The entrance leads down to an antechamber, and then further down into the cave, which suggest that before all the concrete construction of the harbor the cave must have been just above sea level. It reminds me of a miniature version of the famous Udo Jingu Shrine down in Miyazaki, which was a temple until the government decreed it a shrine.

From here I get back on the coast road and follow it around the southern tip of the peninsula and start to head back towards Tonosho Port. The road is straight, on the left a one-meter-high concrete wall and then a narrow beach of white sand and views to islands.

Shodoshima coastline, Shikoku.
Shodoshima coastline
On the right a narrow village only two or three houses deep. Over a small headland and the scene repeats itself. Halfway through the second village I stop in at the final temple of the day, another small hermitage, Jodo-an. The sun is low as I finally get back into Tonosho and my room. I'm taking a few days off from my walk as my wife is coming to visit and I will spend a few days showing her some of the sights I've encountered in the past week, then the last three days walk around the northern half of the island.

Jake Davies

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 5 Part I

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