25 November 2015

First steps on Shikoku

Arrival in Tokushima on the island of Shikoku, the smallest of the four big islands of Japan.
Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

I leave Tokyo at night to arrive nine hours later at Tokushima at 6 a.m. From November 24 to December 2, I will be walking around Shikoku Island. It is the smallest of the four big islands in Japan. Quite rural and relatively sparsely populated (compared to the rest of Japan), Shikoku is renowned for its mountainous landscapes, its small fishing villages, several large agglomerations sheltering superb castles and especially the pilgrimage of the 88 temples. Dedicated to Kôbô-Daishi (founder of the Shingon Buddhist school), it consists of walking around the island, stopping at each of the 88 temples. Generally it takes about two months to do it.

For me, I am going to stroll on the Southeast coast to go to see the fishing villages, hike in the valley of Iya, sheltering superb gorges and go visit the city of Kôchi. First stage of this route: Tokushima. Located on the coast, this is where the pilgrimage begins. After having recovered my room in a small rustic hotel but with private bathroom (happy me) and having slept a few hours, I go visit the city.

Not many people on the streets. Tokushima is very similar to the popular districts of Tokyo except that the streets are less crowded and that the city is crossed by rivers with pretty banks. I take the opportunity to climb Mount Bizan, 290m above sea level, symbol of the city. As usual, it starts to get dark when I start the ascent, the weather is cloudy and the wind is picking up. Lots of images pass through my head during the ascent (Are there bears in the area?), But fortunately the climb only takes 30 minutes. A little out of breath here I am looking up at the landscape beneath me. I discover on one side that Tokushima is much larger than I thought and on the other side, the beginning of the mountains of Tokushima prefecture. The summit of Mount Bizan is covered with telephone and radio antennas and houses an observation platform and a pagoda dedicated to peace. I stay up for a while, but the wind is getting stronger and I decide to leave. I descend by cable car. The descent is impressive, the cabin swaying under the gusts of wind. Visit to the souvenir shop and return to the hotel.

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Chapter I. Japanese walkabouts

Mitaka, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Last days in Japan

My stay in Japan is coming to an end and I take this opportunity to stroll around Tokyo and visit the Ghibli museum.

Osaka, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Across the Kansai

Discovery of Osaka and Nara then weekend on Mount Koya-san before returning to TYK to celebrate hanami.

Takayama, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Takayama matsuri

Stars in my eyes at the superb Takayama Matsuri dedicated to the celebration of spring and good harvests.

Kyoto, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Glimpse of Kyoto

For my last day of work at TYK, I was treated to an organized day trip to Kyoto.

Kachigawa, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

In company of Polina

Meet Polina and her family, a young Russian woman working at TYK whom I met a fortnight before the end of my stay in Tajimi.

Tajimi, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Touches of Spring in Tajimi

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TYK, Tajimi, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Portraits of TYK

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TYK, Tajimi, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Another vision of TYK

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Tajimi, Honshu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Tajimi and ceramics

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Naha, Okinawa, Ryukyu, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Gray weather in Okinawa

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Yufuin, Kyûshû, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Wwoofing in Yufuin

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Yufuin, Kyûshû, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Arrival on Kyûshû

Arrival on Kyûshû, cradle of Japanese civilization, where I will spend the month of December.

Minami, Shikoku, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

Minami, facing the sea

On the south coast of Shikoku, the small town of Minami exudes tranquility and a maritime atmosphere.

Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan © Claire Blumenfeld

First steps on Shikoku

Arrival in Tokushima on the island of Shikoku, the smallest of the four big islands of Japan.

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