We took our pilgrim’s staff to visit the Ishite-ji. We did not do the tour of Shikoku island as our friend Jehan did to reach the temple No. 51 of the pilgrimage, we just walked a little over a kilometer from our ryokan.
A huge Buddha 16 meters tall dominates the temple from a hill: hard to miss such an obvious sign. After completing the rite of purification at the temple entrance, we enter it. It is a preview of the sacred area of the building itself, since in this area there are several buildings, pagodas and small sanctuaries. Some pilgrims were already present, lighting candles, small bundles of incense sticks whose scent filled the air.
Buddhist or Shinto temples are appeased with respect of our churches where there is always someone about to be nailed to a cross, pierced with arrows, or I-don’t-know what other dreadful ordeal. In Ishite-ji temple, as in most temples, there is probably a small corner with grimacing faces, but above all, there are joyful Buddhas, in all cases appeased, smiling, benevolent.
We transormed in Indiana Jones to cross the hill through a tunnel underneath, protected by a host of small Buddha that stood along the way. The tunnel was poorly lit and as we were alone, we felt like in a little adventure.
The presence of several temple pilgrimage in Shikoku sometimes leads to surrealist scenes like when while strolling in a mall we came across a pilgrim with his white coat, his hat, his big backpack and the stick that makes a particular sound.
Below the Matsuyama Castle is a park, which in reality is already part of the castle itself, as it was designed: the Ni-no-maru Park. It is located in the second enclosure of the castle (hence its name). In fact the buildings and the bastion or homes no longer exist. Archaeological excavations and old plans, however, are reconstructed through the layout of the garden. We distinguish very well the verandas and even the tatami. The place was very serene because we were practically the only visitors and were able to enjoy the peace and tranquility near a small pond where the koi carp swimmed (still absolutely enormous).
We are preparing now to cross the sea to reach our next destination: Beppu.