A Walk Around Shodoshima
Day 6, To the Great Kannon Part II
Saturday February 6th
After a delicious lunch with mostly female company it was time to press on. As pleasurable as lunch was, it had taken almost two hours out of a very short winter's day, and if I was going to get where I needed to before dark I had to pick up the pace.
A kilometer or so up the quiet narrow lane and I arrived at the small village of Takinomiya where I enjoyed a drink while exploring the local Yasaka Shrine. Nearby was Takinomiya-an, a small hermitage and number 71 of the pilgrimage. The bell tower was moved here from the Yasaka Shrine when the government separated the Buddhas and Kami in early Meiji.
|Approaching Kasagataki, Shodoshima|
The trail now starts down the opposite side of the ridge. It is very rocky and the trail is not at all clear but it's fairly obvious where I'm heading. Soon I reach a wide path and a bell tower and then lines of statues. I've reached Kasagataki, the okunoin of temple 72, Ryukoji, which is located lower down at the base of the mountain.
Way up at the base of the cliff is a group of building set against the rock, obviously various caves/ halls, and on top of the cliff itself a tall, pagoda made of stone. Between me and the building is a huge, steep slope of bare naked rock. Not perfectly smooth, but with no steps carved into it, a handrail goes part way up. However, a yellow rope is strung across the base which would seem to imply that entry is forbidden. I slowly start to make my way up. Where the handrail ends there is a small cave off to the right which I go into and explore.
|The main halls of Kasagataki, Shodoshima|
From the gate a long and wide flight of stone steps leads down to the road. Coming from below it must be one hell of a climb up to Kasagataki. I follow the country lane down into the village where I find Ryukoji, a substantial temple and one of only a handful on this pilgrimage with Nio guardians. I walk along the hillside through the village and head north east towards the Daikannon. First I stop in at pilgrimage temple number 73, Guze-do.
|Entrance to the Great Kannon|
The base of the statue, which is more than 50 meters high, contains a temple and after paying my entrance fee, go in and explore. An elevator ascends up inside the statue to the viewing platform. The small windows looking out are the jewels in Kannon's necklace. The views to the front look down on the valleys and mountains I previously walked, and the view from behind is the coast of Shodoshima and views towards Okayama and other islands. The sun is close to setting and there is a bus stop just in front of the Daikannon entrance, so its a good point to stop for the day and catch the bus back down to Tonosho.
A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 6 Part I
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