Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Lost in the Mountains Day 3 of the Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage


Well actually lost is a bit of an exaggeration. I knew exactly where I was, I was in Mitsukitano, a rather secluded mountain village north of Okayama City. The problem was the road I had planned on taking simply no longer existed, and the alternative was a lengthy detour.

The Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage is a fairly modern invention, made I believe in 1985. This means that there are no well-established, historical routes between the temples, and in fact the guidebooks are written for drivers, though public transport access to each temple is often given.

This means that when planning my walks along it I have to figure out my own route, usually with the aid of googlemaps, but often also with the Japanese official topo maps, whose website is now much more useful. 

There are many factors that influence my choice of routes, I prefer smaller roads if possible, and I prefer to do as little climbing as possible, and often I am tempted to make detours that take me to interesting sites.

On day 3 of my walk  I had chosen not to take the obvious route but had instead detoured up some narrow mountain roads so I could visit the Maneki Neko Museum. I had no particular interest in Maneki Neko, but I partially funded my walks by writing articles for a large Japanese tourism website, and so I try to visit such sites. By taking that detour I had accidentally discovered Kinzanji, the oldest temple in Okayama, with its magnificent ancient pagoda.

So, here I was in Mitsukitano, and across from me I could see the golf course scarring the hillside. My destination lay down there about 1k away between the two mountains, but the road that googlemaps told me should exist did not. It probably did exist at some point in the not-too-distant past. This was not the first time I had been put in this position by following maps, and it would certainly not be the last.

1 comment: