In travel log number two we journey to Setoda-cho a town located on one of the many small islands floating in the Seto Inland Sea. Ikuchi Island is one of seven islands linking mainland Japan to the large island of Shikoku. Apparently cycling across the bridges between the islands makes for a fantastic day trip but as the sun was likely to melt me and any bicycle I was unfortunate enough to be sitting on I made do with visiting just Ikuchi and dragging my friend Darren along for the adventure.
First we journeyed to the city of Onimichi where we caught a ferry to the island which zipped under one of the aforementioned bridges before depositing us in the town centre. Deciding to aim for what looked like a temple in the distance we wound our way along a sea side road that led up higher into the island. When we reached it we realised we were on an art trail leading to different scenic parts of the island which are depicted in drawings placed nearby by famous local artist Hirayama Ikuo, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast.
|Kojoji temple by Hirayama Ikuo|
From the temple we could see a large complex in the distance through the trees and set our courses for it but not before dousing ourselves in insect repellent which did bugger all as apparently mosquitoes will risk anything to get a drop of my sweet, sweet blood. Down the little hiking trail and out the other side we ended up in Kosanji temple, probably the most beautiful and colourful temple I have seen in my entire time here. A business manager of a steel pipe manufacturing company in Osaka named Kosanji Koso built the Choseikaku villa in this spot for his beloved mother. He used his great wealth to build her what he wanted to be a beautiful and peaceful residence. After her death, his devotion to Buddha and the memory of his mother led him to construct the Kosanji temple in the same location. It took thirty years to build. A mammy's boy on an epic scale.
|As usual just click the pictures to embiggen|
|Mind melting colours and an amazing attention to detail|
The villa he constructed for his mother was in a corner of the complex and was built in the traditional Japanese style with added European influenced rooms and a second storey which was not common in Japanese houses of the era and up which our grubby feet were not allowed to go. The tatami room he had created especially for his mother to relax in was built to the highest standard of the time, decorated beautifully and overlooked a small Japanese style garden and stream.
|A statue of mammy dearest herself|
|The ceiling of her private room was covered in hand painted scenes from nature|
|A painting of the big boss man|
Next on our tour of the beautiful and majestic temple complex was Senbutsudo "Hell Valley Cave of a Thousand Buddha Images". Wait, what...
Yup, an underground cave with thousands of Buddha images carved into the walls. It was blessedly cool down here and the steady drip drip of water that echoed through the cave, coupled with the low lighting created a proper eerie atmosphere. The reason for the less-than-beautiful name was the paintings that hung on the walls leading down into the cave showing people being tortured by demons in very imaginative ways. Nice.
|"Hi-ho, hi-ho it's off to dismember we go!"|
|We're watching youuuuu....|
After finishing in the temple we took an elevator to the top of the hill (I know right?! Laziness of the highest order) which was absolutely covered in marble, marble pathways and marble statues. Going by the name of Hope Hill it is a piece created by a Japanese artist using Italian imported marble that seemed in great contrast to the old and traditional buildings we had seen below. The marble reflected the sun making us feel like we were standing on a cooker and being slowly fried and in my opinion should not have built in the same place as the temple as it is in no way related to it nor did it compliment it in any way. We snapped some pictures and then ran before our insides boiled.
After this we escaped indoors to Hirayama's art museum which we were not allowed to take pictures in unfortunately as his art is beyond beautiful and to cap off the day we took a bus to sunset beach further out the road and threw ourselves into the sea. Not having the foresight to have brought swimsuits we waited until most people were gone or going and legged it in in our, ahem, delicates. Then slogged our tired, slightly damp, slightly sunburned selves back to the port to catch the last ferry back to the mainland. All in all a pretty awesome adventure.