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四国の八十八カ所巡り Shikoku 88-temple pilgrimage Japan

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Uploaded on Feb 18, 2010

[English description below]

四国八十八ケ所遍路旅に出かけました。平成21年8月から9月まで、野宿しながら四国­を回って、人とのお喋りを楽しんだり、お経を学んだり、また、遍路道を歩くといった日­常とかけ離れたことの中にやすらぎを覚えたりしてしました。大都会ロンドンの日常生活­に戻っても、「四国」にまだまだ影響されます。

その旅の写真を動画にました。興味のある方、ご覧下さい!

A video-collage of photos taken on my journey walking across Japan's Shikoku region; a mountainous island the size of Wales (or, Israel, Massachusetts and El Salvador!) , connected to the mainland by road as recently as 1998.

Shikoku is home to the "88 temple pilgrimage" associated with the founder of Shingon Buddhism Kobo Daishi or "Kukai". Beginning in Tokushima, the closest city to the mainland connection, the traditional walk (I walked from temple number one to temple 88, before returning to temple one) stretches 1,600km through mountains, forests, valleys and villages into one of the "remotest" parts of Japan. The route allows for some imagination and deviation; temples associated with deities part of the Shikoku journey flank the route, and there is the repeating option of avoiding roads to move through the pine-forested mountains. However remote some parts of the journey may be (notably the 85km stretch of road down to the south-western cape of Ashizuri) vending machines in the middle of nowhere remind you however that you are in Japan, and will not go thirsty.

The "pilgrimage" does not demand that the pilgrim is Buddhist at all; the commitment of the journey is enough for people to treat you as a "living Daishi". The receipt of alms is what makes the solo journey emotionally possible. The greatest experience is walking a sacred path walked for over 1,000 years; towards the final temple there is only one direct route down the mountain.

Signs appear occasionally insisting that "life is a pilgrimage". This was too cryptic; the pilgrimage for me was about people - Shikoku's residents and the occasional walking pilgrim. Avoid at all costs however, the "shugyou pilgrim", who will insist that you live off mayonnaise, bread, water and spirituality alone.

Every video has its limits. Beautiful moments don't always lend themselves to the taking of a photograph, the skin-clinging musk of the rainy season isn't easily transferred into images, you can't hear the lonely cuckoo on the wooded mountainside. A beautiful journey; the photos help to re-connect the distance between now and the time I had walking in Shikoku.

Anybody intending on walking the 88 temples are welcome to message me with questions.

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