三連休で遍路や鳴門の渦潮 – Three Day Weekend: Henro 1-5, 85 & Naruto Whirlpools

Always trying to make the most of my time here, I spent a long weekend getting to a few places with friends that had long been on my bucket list and relaxing in general.  The weekend started for us on Saturday with a nabe party at Ryan’s.  Nabe is basically just hot soup that the Japanese eat in the winter.  All sorts of vegetables can be added to any number of broths – my favorite is kimchi flavor.  We had a good time relaxing and chatting before the night finally wound down.  Rather than make the 45 minute drive back home, I just stayed over, as I tend to do.   The next morning  I went to Yakuri-ji Temple with Ryan, who had been itching to get back there.  We could drive most of the way, but had to do a bit of walking in order to reach the temple.  This was temple number 85 of the pilgrimage circuit, and offered an incredible view of the west side of Takamatsu.  The rest of the day just involved going into town to watch some friends in a kimono fashion show at an international event held to celebrate the new year.  While there, we decorated some fans and talked with other friends there.  Following that, Ryan and I played some spin-disk (Frisbee) and throw-ball (catch, with a Nerf football) at the park.  We were joined by a few curious high schoolers which is always fun.  Eventually it was back to Ryan’s where we did very little and slept.

The view from Yakuri-ji; the lava plateau to the right has temple number 84, and was where my boss took all of the new JETs on our first night in town.

The next morning, we loaded up in my car (later dubbed the KeeBus) with a few other teachers and did a day trip to the neighboring Tokushima Prefecture.  We didn’t have much on the itinerary, but we had been wanting to see the whirlpools on the far east side of Shikoku, as well as some more of the 88 temples on the circuit.  Hannah, Arran, Ryan and I all gathered at his flat before leaving late in the morning.  We stopped for some victuals during our hour long drive before finally arriving in the city of Naruto.  Once parked up at the ferry port, we boarded a boat and motored over to where these whirlpools and eddies are meant to form.  This strait between Tokushima and Awaji Island has the fourth fastest tide in the world, with water rushing through at around 9 mph 4 times  a day.  Since the rushing waters are caused by the tides, there are certain times throughout the day that are best, with full moons causing especially potent waters.  We were fortunate enough to hit both perfectly.  It was really impressive to watch the water rushing around us, as if we were in a river.  Though I did see some some swirling, I wasn’t able to capture any impressive vortexes on camera.  Here is a little video that at least shows the churning waters that birth them.

Back in my car, it was time to do lunch.  We stopped at a conveyor belt sushi shop and had our fill.  After we were stuffed and payed up, it was back to the road to get to some of the temples.  I have no desire to go to all of them, or at least make a significant effort to do so,  but as they are a pretty famous characteristic of the region where I live, visiting them is usually a good use of time.  Also, while many shrines and temples all look about the same, some of these more significant ones can have some impressive and distinguishing features.  Also, driving makes getting from one to the next quite a bit easier and quicker than walking as I’ve done in the past.  We made it to Ryozen-ji, Gokuraku-ji, Konsen-ji, Dainichi-ji, and Jizo-ji.

Here were some beautiful lanterns I saw at the first of the 88, Ryozen-ji. I’ve never seen this sort of fixture in a temple before.

At the end of the day we were all very happy with what we were able to see and have already determined to have more of these KeeBus outings.  I saw more of Shikoku, upped my temple count to 14, and laid the framework for several more of these outings.  Travelling by car is the cheapest when split 4 ways and helps us appreciate all the in-between spots as well.

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