There are temples and shrines all over Shodoshima, and a well known pilgrimage involves visiting all 88 temples on the island. There is some great documentation of such a pilgrimage here which has been very useful in locating temples to visit – while I will not have time to visit all 88 temples there are some I definitely did not want to miss, and on Monday we visited one of the most beautiful I have been to!
We drove around two bays, and through the back streets of a small seaside village, following small road signs. Eventually the road became even more narrow and we headed up a steep zig zag road into the mountains. The road kept zigging and zagging, and thankfully the one place we met a car coming down there was a passing bay, just wide enough for us both.
Eventually we arrived at a parking area, big enough for four or five cars, and grabbing a water bottle started climbing up a set of stairs… and climbing… and climbing….
The stairs were steep, and it was close to 30 degrees C but the ever expanding view kept us going…
Eventually we reached a small temple, and after catching our breath & admiring the view we noticed that beside the temple was a very rough track, with a sign pointing upwards…
More climbing, but this time slower, steeper & with even greater anticipation.
Finally the track levelled out and across the narrow mountain top we were treated to a view of a tiny shrine, perched underneath a massive rock!
The view and the sound up here was unspeakably beautiful. Off each side of the track it was a sheer drop down on one side through bush to the coast, and on the other side into a deep valley…
I read somewhere about how these remote temples and shrines, on mountain tops, are almost created so that for people to visit them they must arrive out of breath, gasping for air like someone who has been underwater for almost too long….
It was so peaceful up here, I could have stayed for hours… And I will, next time! I am on cloud watch, waiting for the right conditions to load up my backpack & slowly claw my way back up, to attempt to capture just a tiny fragment of the profound nature of this beautiful location on Shodoshima.