Shikoku 2018

Day 32: Searching for Kobo Daishi

It all started on day 19. After visiting temple 54, I walked back along the coast towards Matsuyama. In Kikuma, I passed a tile making factory, and the following made me stop up.

A 1m tall (incl base) statue of Kobe Daishi. What a great idea to bring home with me as a souvenir! I tried to lift it, but of course it wouldn’t budge, and with a baggage allowance of 23 kg, which this alone weighs, and probably 10 time more, I quashed the idea.

Kikuma is known for its 700 year history of producing roof tiles and not least for the production of ornate tiles that decorate the ridges of many roofs in Asia and known as onigawara in Japanese.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything like it on the rest of my journey, but it kept popping up in my mind. I remembered roughly where I had seen the statue and when I traced my steps  on google maps, the statue was photographed on google world, standing, just as it does today. I could see 5 Japanese signs on the wall of the building. I had no idea what they depicted, but guessed it was the company name. I sent the google world picture to our sales office in Japan and they could identify the company and gave them a call. They had a smaller version of the Kobo Daishi statue (about 20 cm tall).

The issue to be addressed was how was I going to get hold of it. Kikuma is about as far away from Tokushima as you can get on Shikoku. So yesterday afternoon I sat with a very patient lady from Japan rail and worked out how to get there from Tokushima and back to Wakayama, where I had a hotel reservation for the night, using my Japan rail pass.

The result was:

8.24 Tokushima to Utazu (9.50) on Uzisho.

10.06 Utazu to Imabari (11.34) on Shiokaze

12.06 Imabari to Kikuma (12.26) on a local train

I had all my baggage with me, as I was changing hotels. I left it in a coin locker at Imabari, so I didn’t have to carry it on the 2km walk to the factory and back.

It took 20 minutes to walk to the factory. All the doors were open, but I couldn’t find anybody. Finally I found a door clock, and after a couple of minutes a man appeared. After some explanation he understood what I meant and found the smaller version. He packed it in a box, I paid him, and I walked back to the station.

14.03 Kikuma to Imabari (14.23) on a local train

15.01 Imabari to Okayama (17.11) on Shiokaze

17.26 Okayama to Shin-Osaka (18.25) on Hikari

18.45 Shin-Osaka to Wakayama (20.53) on Kuroshio.

Fantastic names the train lines have and when arranging this trip yesterday, the lady from Japan rail had difficulty understanding that I just didn’t know them!

Seven trains in just over 12 hours and approximately 800 km travelled, all departing and arriving on time, including my first Shinkansen this time around. This is what it looks like from the inside:

At 16.40 the train left Shikoku and crossed the bridge and tunnel to Hongshu after 31 days on the beautiful island with its guest free people. It was certainly saddening to leave.

I checked into the Comfort hotel and went out to try and find something to eat. There are many restaurants in Wakayama, but as with everywhere else, either one can’t see in them or you have little or no idea of what they actually serve. I ended up with small portion of tempura king prawns – I pointed at a menu, but the prawns were all I got.

Oh, and a picture of what I bought. Not exactly as elegant as I had hoped, but a reminder of the past 31 days following in his footsteps.

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