Aki Meguri Shikoku
November 5th, 2001 (Monday):
Temples 60 and 65
Note: In the original Aki
Meguri pages, the Shikoku stage had no journal entries. Rather,
my thoughts and feelings were incorporated into the "Logbook,"
so you won't find separate journal entries here, as in the Old
Tokaido and Yamato stages.
|(Added on November 6th because I
unbelievably forgot to mention it when I originally wrote this page):
I left my home in Nippori on September
5th, so as of today I have been on the road for two months.
That's two months without hanging with my friends (except a few I saw
along the way), two months of living in space that's not my own, and two
months without Mexican food. Such things'll change a man.
I'm sure this has changed me.
I have conquered the mountain--with
brains, not brawn.
As it turned out, the bus from Saijo
went up the mountain to a stop called something like "Yokomineguchi,"
where you buy a ticket for a shuttle bus up (and if you choose back
down) the mountain. So as a result of my research, getting to
Number 60 was a piece of cake. Getting back down was another
I also had another new experience.
I've been a walking henro, a car henro, and a bicycle henro.
Today I had a taste of what it's like to be a bus henro.
You see, the shuttle bus up and down
the mountain isn't there for the occasional lone public-transportation henro
like me; it's there to take the bus henro on a road that
full-sized tour buses couldn't negotiate. So I was in a bus with
around 30 bus henro, average age around 70.
It was a blast. The camaraderie,
the laughter, the aid given to one another on the stairs from the
temple: this is something a solo henro like myself misses out on.
Despite the language barrier (and the age gap), we had some fun as they
quizzed me about my country, my age, my reasons for the pilgrimage--the
usual questions. If I were a 70-year-old Japanese guy, I'd
definitely do this.
So now let's look at:
|Temple #60: Yokomineji (The Temple of
the Side Summit)
Honzon: Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana Buddha)
Actually, there ain't much to look at
(except: see the
The temple buildings are modest, though the view on a clear day is
probably spectacular. (Though I saw little rain today, it was
cloudy and cold.)
Another temple founded by En-no-gyoja,
the mountain ascetic, this was originally part of the shrine on
Ichizuchizan, Western Japan's highest mountain. Like so many
others, this temple and its "mother shrine" were separated at
the Meiji Restoration.
The shuttle bus takes us a little above
the temple, so we actually walk down to get there. This
makes the words of the Bishop a little ironic: "Finally we are
faced with the challenge of walking a steep mountain path for three
hours round trip....A perilous, unpaved steep path makes you fear for
your life. Recently several pilgrims died on their trip to the
temple....This is the most difficult Nansho ['difficult
place'] of all the Nanshos on the Shikoku circuit." Ah,
Oddly, it was far more difficult getting away
from the temple than it was getting there. If the weather had been
more promising, I might have taken the henro path back to Number
61, where I was yesterday. But as the clouds threatened, I took
the shuttle bus back to its starting point. When I checked the
city bus schedule for my return to Saijo station, I discovered that I
was facing a three-hour wait! So I walked the five
kilometers down a winding mountain road to the nearest train station,
next to Number 63. Discovering that the next train was coming in
an hour, I found a bus stop and took the bus back to Saijo. I
boarded an express train for my next destination, Iyomishima
station--where I arrived just as the city bus would be pulling up to the
bus stop back at Yokomineguchi, where I had left the shuttle bus and
started walking! Sometimes you win...
..sometimes you lose. Ed
Readicker-Henderson said the next temple was four kilometers from
Iyomishima station. Figuring that for around a thousand yen--and
looking at the clock, realizing it was nearly 4:00--I jumped into a
Only to discover that it's more like eight
kilometers. Thanks, Ed. Even the fairly-direct henro
path is 6.5 K, as I discovered when I checked later. So 2400 yen
poorer, I arrived at:
|Temple #65: Sankakuji (The Temple of
Honzon: Juichimen Kannon (Avalokitesvara with eleven faces)
...where all was forgiven, because this
was a truly beautiful place.
Ed had raved on about the hondo,
particularly its roof. (He has a thing about roofs, bragging that
he has chased all over Japan looking for a good roof.) And the hondo
is beautiful, as are the Daishido and the gate. But what caught me
even more was a matter of circumstance: here at 1600 feet (about 490
meters) I saw my first, real, honest-to-goodness Fall color.
You can see more in the Gallery: my view of the Daishido was mostly
blocked by red leaves.
Another beautiful thing at this temple
is the gate: though it's hard to see in the Gallery
there's a bell hanging in the gateway.
The name of this temple is
"Triangle." The legend explains that the Daishi did a
ceremony here using a triangular-shaped altar (apparently a standard
item for that ceremony), hence the name.
I don't buy it. There's got
to be more to it than that. Triangles are too suggestive for the
name to have come from something as simple as that, but I have to admit
I haven't the faintest idea what it could be.
Meanwhile, in homage to the name, there
is a triangular pond on the property; here you can make it out by
the shape of the railing around it (and enjoy more Autumn colors).
A cab back to the station, a train back to
Imabari, a bus back to the ryokan. And tomorrow, Unpenji will
present yet another mountain challenge--and probably the last really
really tough temple approach.