Greetings, folks, from rainy Kan’onji City on the western fringes of Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku. If you’re the kind of weirdo who prefers kanji (Chinese characters), I’m here to help: 観音寺市. It’s the name of both the city and one of its two principle temples (the suffix -ji means temple). Kan’on or Kannon is a Buddhist goddess of mercy (and pets, apparently), much venerated along the Shikoku pilgrimage route: 29 of the 88 temples are dedicated to her. One unusual thing about this temple, #69, though, is that it adjoins #68, Jinnein, which meant a delightfully easy double whammy with which to start Day 8 today. I’m presently squandering that advantage by sitting here on my Z-Rest outside a 7-11, typing this long-overdue post and stealth-charging laptop, wifi hotspot and one of my arsenal of camera batteries. I haven’t tapped into a convenience store’s power outlet since I last wandered through Shikoku in 2008… (I don’t like supporting the evil 7-11 Corporation, currently in the news in Australia for ripping off their student workforce, but their stores are …
PEAKS & PILGRIMAGE TOUR JAPAN, AUGUST 2013 I remember when my friend Andrew and I climbed Mt Fuji just over a decade ago, she was mighty elusive considering she was easily the biggest lump of rock and cinder on the entire archipelago. We had camped near Lake Motosu, and started walking to the mountain base at midday. It took us five hours, down vague tracks and forestry roads, to get to the starting point. Much of the time we were treed in, but even when we found ourselves in the open, with 3,776m of mountain somewhere in front, we often couldn’t see her. Haze, cloud, dense misty air is drawn to her, clinging to her flank like a camouflaging cloak. Then the cloak would shift, you’d be granted a glimpse and — Jesus.
PEAKS & PILGRIMAGE TOUR TOKYO, AUGUST 2013 The oddly pleasant smell of burning mosquito coils wafted through the upstairs-room window as I slipped into chu-hi-enhanced sleep. Then sometime after midnight I was shaken awake by tremors rippling through the tatami — wondered in the morning if I’d dreamed them till Andrew told me they’d originated up north, somewhere near the site of the Fukushima disaster.
Just before I split from bustling Haeundae Beach (barely a minute after arriving), an older guy approached, asked if I was a photographer, smiled with compassion worthy of the Buddha himself when I confessed my true calling, and proceeded to list all the other westerners he’d befriended. Then he commenced a detailed discourse on the history of Yonggung Temple.
Did you ever have one of those jobs where entering the office some mornings was like sailing a cursed clipper ship into a fog of doom? Actually, just about every job I’ve ever had has been like that.
Hey, all. Just to show that there’s more to the mean streets of Jangyu than the trash and decay I highlighted in the last post, I thought I’d balance things out today with a bit of urban beauty. This is the first of my Scenes from a Stroll to feature more than one picture, but I think this lot work together as a series. And to tell the truth, I couldn’t bear to break up the set!
Although I don’t have a religious bone in my body, I do enjoy a good temple, as regular readers might have guessed. I don’t go to them in search of anything profound. I just enjoy their architecture and landscaping, and the glimpses they provide of an older Korea (or Japan, for that matter).
Hi, all. Well, it’s Friday night in the big city — and here in Jangyu as well — and here I am at home typing a blog entry. I might have to prepare a cup of chamomile tea soon to stave off the wildness before I annoy the neighbours.