Oct. 29th. 2022
Osaka Castle Memorial Stones Commemorative Plaza.
Osaka Castle Memorial Stones Commemorative Plaza michi no eki provides a restful night. Morning brings the excitement of a lone monkey wandering across the empty car park and along the front of the not yet open michi no eki buildings. A little later, small children with grandparents arrive to wait for the school bus.
Here there is a remnant of an earlier Triennale festival. Castle stones with plaques of an esoteric nature entitled “Dynamite Traverse Variations”. These depict the trajectory of shock waves from dynamite blasts traveling through rock, I think.
Pulling out we make for Sakate Port, as we will leave Shodoshima on the afternoon ferry for Takamatsu. But first, we visit Hoshoin temple.
Hoshoin and the Guru under the Juniper tree 宝生院
Hoshoin Temple has a long history and an even older Juniper Tree. This magnificent tree is reputed to be over 1500 years old. The trunk has split into three and each is thick and convoluted.
As we arrive, an Indian Guru and his small entourage are trying to sit under the tree to record his podcast. To his chagrin, the temple lady will not permit him to cross beyond the barrier, so he chooses another spot.
On entering the temple building, we are confronted by two large dragon murals. These are the work of an artist who only paints such dragons. The ceiling is of illustrated panels and there is a 3D frieze of Heavenly Beings.
The temple forms part of the Henro Trail. Pilgrims come for the Temple, tourist for the tree the friendly temple lady informs us.
After the temple, we visit another artwork at Hishio no Sato. A French artist, Georges Rousse, has created an illusion of a golden disk inside a traditional, tatami room ‘Georges Gallery’.
Upstairs, in the same house, there is a white rectangle created in blackboard chalk. This image is not so convincing, being easily understood, but the artist’s work impressed me.
Marukin Soy Sauce
From a golden disk in an old house, we change tack and visit Marukin Soy Sauce Factory at Hishio no sato. This area is home to more than 20 soy sauce and tsukudani factories.
The Marukin factory was interesting. I learned things about soy sauce I was unaware of. I had no idea wheat was part of the process.
By visiting the factory, at a cost of 400yen, we are each given a small bottle of soy sauce and a 100-yen voucher to spend in the shop. Here, we buy another bottle of sauce and a soy sauce soft cream. Somehow, we are now financially ahead and the soy sauce soft cream unexpectedly delicious. Certainly recommended.
Art, Beat Takeshi’s hangover
Then, a final look at an artwork or two. First an old house that had been transformed into an art installation. Whatever the concept, it went straight over my head.
The second, a water spouting demon emerging from a well entitled “Anger from the Bottom” All to do with the shortage of fresh water on Shodoshima. Beat Takeshi was involved in this hideous relic of a previous festival.
Takamatsu super sento
Then the Jumbo ferry to Takamatsu, where we visit a super sento (public bath). This place is memorable for me as emerging from the bath clutching my locker key, I discover that the number on the key is so faded that without my glasses, sadly inside the locker, it appears entirely blank. Having tried in vain to remember the exact location of the locker I have to ask for assistance. A kindly, keen sighted young man guides me to my locker, and I am reunited with my clothes. A senior moment.
Then on to our michi no eki, Genpei no Sato Mure. This has massive toilets with nine washbasins, nine urinals and one stall. Weird.
＊Yuraku onsen ; 400 yen / adult
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.