Thousands of Miles from Home



In my ongoing attempt to catch up to the present, I will recount the activities of this Sunday, a trip with my host family to Konpira-san, a famous mountain on Shikoku island. However, beginning today, I discovered that I will be attending some sort of party everyday for the next week or so. Then on the 28th I will be moving to my new host family, Kawai-san, after a christmas trip to Tsuyama and perhaps Daisen mountain for skiing/snowboarding. Winter break starts on the 24th, so depending on time and computer access I will try to avoid long periods of radio silence. With that said...

Konpira-san is located on Shikoku island, the fourth largest island in japan. The official name of the mountain is Kotohiraguu, and it was called Konpiradaigongen during the Edo period. Konpira, if you were wondering, is an Indian God who protects Buddism, hence the name, Konpira-san.

Konpira-san is known as a shrine to ships, but the exact reason was not explained to me. Something about an old man stopping on the island and climbing a large amount of steps to look out over the city. And if there is one thing that Konpira-san posesses, it's steps. 1368 steps, to be exact, all the way to the small shrine at the top of the mountain. The specific reason that the Watanabe's took me to Konpirasan was to hopefully get a glimpse of a special room that is only opened to the public every 125 years. Unfortunately, there were people lined up the first 300 steps waiting to see the room, so we decided that I probably had a better chance of viewing the room in another 125 years. Not to waste the trip to the mountain, I convinced Masatoshi and Shoko to take the trek up the 1368 stairs to the pinnacle (a feat Shoko had only performed once before, and Masatoshi had never attempted).

I consider myself "capable" when it comes to math, but comprehending large numbers always had a way of perplexing me. "Math field day" repeatedly angered me when it came to estimating the number of pennies in a jar or some such nonsense. But I now have very concrete and palpable knowledge of what it feels like to climb, and then descend 2736 stairs. As a consolation I was lucky that I didn't try the climb in summer, which would have been much more uncomfortable. It was actually quite refreshing to reach the top of the mountain and gaze out over the town of Kotohira. And even though the lower shrines were packed with people waiting to see the famous tatami room, very few wandered up to the top of the mountain.

On the way back down the mountain, about 500 steps from the bottom, I really needed to use a bathroom. I felt worried because the sanitation of bathrooms can be questionable (varying from dirty to "hole-in-the-ground"), and I didn't expect much this high above sea level. My host dad inquired, and we were led to a very fancy, very new looking shrine addition. Upon entering the bathroom, my jaw dropped clear to the marble tiled floor. In addition to a heated toilet seat, this bathroom sported hot and cold water, a large mirror, as well as handtowels, a veritable unknown in many japanese bathrooms.

After returning to the bottom of the mountain, I ate a lunch of Konpirasan udon, then left to visit a nearby Kabuki theatre. Konpira Osibai, also known as Kanamaruza, is the oldest Kabuki theatre in japan. It was built in 1835, during the Edo period. Recently it has been fully restored, and one can tour all parts of the building, including backstage and dressing room areas. Some of the special features of the theatre include a revolving stage, as well as platforms that were rotated, raised, and lowered by human power. The revolving stage allowed for multiple scenes to be prepared backstage, the rotated into place quickly.

After the theatre, we stopped for some cake in a local shop before heading back to Tamano.


Post a Comment

<< Home