Sunday, October 22, 2017

Imabari - Taisanji

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 32.
Temples: #55-56 (Nankōbō, Taisanji).
Distance: 8.6km (929.6km), time spent: 3:55.
Weather: Typhoon.


All wet hell has broken loose on this day. Not only is it raining a lot, it is also the ninth consecutive day with rain, I am really tired of it now. Despite that, I still decide to go on for a short distance on the pilgrimage, as I have quite some time left of the day. I will not walk very far though, my plan is just to get to temple #56, Taisanji. As there is shukubō available at that temple, I thought for a while to stay there, but given the rain and everything I find it more convenient just to keep my hotel room for another night.

The templegate to Nankōbō.

It is a quick walk down to temple #55, Nankōbō (The Temple of Southern Lights), one of the few temples that does not have a name that ends with ji on the pilgrimage. The other two are Fujiidera and Jinnein. Today Nankōbō is a very wet temple. There is no escaping the rain when walking between the various templebuildings when I am going through the rituals at the temple. Most of the other guests just park their cars in the middle of the temple, before hastening around to do their errands.

At Nankōbō in heavy rain.

Although I quite liked the temple, my attention is more drawn toward the shinto shrine next to the temple, Ōyamazumi Jinja. Maybe it is because it contains more colours, making it stand out in the grey world the rain creates, giving it a more cheerful feeling at the moment. All those red toriis in a line and red ornamented buildings, both small and larger. In older times, until the Meiji Period, temples and shrines usually coexisted side by side as Nankōbō and Ōyamazumi Jinja does. This was because of a theory from the 9th century called Honji-suijaku (True Nature-manifestations), where Shintō Kami was considered to be manifestations of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Nankōbō was originally associated with the Oyamazumi Shintō Shrine of Ōmishima Island.

At Ōyamazumi Jinja, a line of red toriis.

Ōyamazumi Jinja.

Going down to the port of Imabari was not such a good idea, as I struggle to keep the sedgehat on top of my head. The wind blows so hard, getting hold of the sedgehat, that I feel I will take off from the ground at any moment. Like a henro Mary Poppins. Not to mention the constant rain in my face. I make a retreat from the rainy onslaught and searches for safety at Imabari Castle.

Imabari Castle, maybe my favorite Japanese castle on Shikoku so far on the walk.

Unlike the other castles I have seen and visited so far, Imabari Castle is not located on top of a hill. Around the castle and its walls, water is surrounding it like a moat. Inside the main castle building there is a exhibition of Japanese castles, a part of me wants to visit them all. At the balcony surrounding the upper floor, I get a better view of Imabari than I did from Chikamiyama, I do not have my head up into the clouds as I had up there. I cannot see very far though, Chikamiyama is just visible, as is the Shimanamani-kaidō. This might be my favourite castle so far.

View from Imabari Castle over the city, Chikamiyama in the background.

View towards the port of Imabari and the sea from Imabari Castle.

Returning to the trail and passing by the Imabari Station, the pilgrim route goes in an almost straight line towards the next temple, Taisanji. On the walk, I just wrap my raingear tighter around me and face the weather. Taisanji (Peace Mountain Temple), temple #56, shares its name with temple #52 but I found that temple more interesting than this. That said, I cannot say that I dislike this temple either. Earlier on the walk, conducting the temple rituals in the rain was not a problem, but on this day I struggle some, everything goes slower.

A rainy walk to Taisanji, fields submerged in water.

There is just a short walk to the okunoin of the temple, Ryūsenji, so off I go. I like the two small staircases of stone leading up to the place and its little pond. There is also a table with some chairs at the okunoin, where you can sit down after you have done your ascetic training there. I reckon that I can call all my walk in the typhoon today for a tiny bit of ascetic training too, and pleased with that I set course back 'home' to my hotel. It does not take long time before I catch a bus from the main road heading towards Imabari.

At Taisanji temple..

It is kind of interesting the way you pay for your fare here. When you enter the bus, you pick a ticket telling which zone you began your bus ride from. On a board at the front of the bus, you find a list of all the zones; as you drive, the price of your ticket is shown underneath your zone number. As you drive longer, the price will increase. You pay the amount shown on the board for your zone when you leave the bus. In this way, you do not have to determine where you go before you go on the bus, you just pay for how far you actually go. I go off at Imabari Station, with the ticket price accordingly.

At Ryūsenji, the okunoin of Taisanji.

When going out for dinner, Imabari is deserted, there are no one outside. Though, I find it understandable, being rain and a sunday, I also find it strange walking alone in the dark and rainy streets. In this weather, even with the lights from the streetlamps and buildings, it feels dark. As I find no other people, I also find no places to eat. When I get tired of looking, I just go back in the direction of where I ate yesterday, Coco Ichibanya. I remember seeing a place that looked nice on the way there, now it is closed. I go to Coco Ichibanya.

On the bus back to Imabari.

The evening is again spent in my hotelroom with the hairdryer in one hand and a can of cold beer in the other. Outside, it is raining relentless, so it feels good relaxing inside in the evening. I have not bothered asking about the weather tomorrow, I do not know where I will go to either.

<- ChikamiyamaIyo Miyoshi ->

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