SYNOPSIS:  About a visit to the Shikoku Mura, an outdoor museum preserving historical structures from around Shikoku.  About one of 88 holy temples and a pilgrim tradition which makes Shikoku famous.

No Noguchi today — the Garden Museum is  open only three times every week.  Still, I don’t feel motivated to go to Naoshima Island, filled with contemporary art — for some reason that sounded a lot more exciting when I had considered it in Michigan.  I chose another local attraction instead, an outdoor museum.  I guess for those of you in Michigan, it is a bit like the Henry Ford Greenfield Village outdoor museum.

Thirty-three structures, some of which date all the way back to the 17th century but many are more recent, dating from the 19th century, have been donated or brought to the Shikoku Mura in Yashima for preservation of a fast disappearing way of life.  There were residences, a light house, an old fire station, three homes of lighthouse keepers, a teenage boys’ retreat on stilts, and a village Kabuki theatre.  But I most enjoyed the more industrial sites: a soy sauce factory, an old sugar cane mill, a bark steaming hut (first step in paper making), a stone bridge, a tea house, rice storage houses, and some old wild boar fences.  Most fun, there was a suspension bridge made of vine — a disconcertingly fun experience to wobble across.

And finally, there was a completely out of place modern concrete building designed by the somewhat famous architect Tadao Ando.  It facilitated a modern art museum with about 50 small-scale works ranging from prehistoric haniwa figurines to two surprising Picassos, one Renoir, and one sculpture by Rodin.  Aside from the lovely rose garden in which a few hot springs were transformed into a multi-level terrace of gushing water — this building sat like a bullying war bunker above all these delicate straw and wooden buildings from the past.

It was a hot day and the stroll through the woods and bamboo forest that connected the buildings was rather pleasant.

And since I was in the neighborhood, I added a temple visit.  Shikoku island is actually best known as an island for pilgrims.  88 temples are strewn over the island, which are said to go back to the times of one of the most beloved patriarchs of Shingon Buddhism, who was born here:  Kobo Daishi (Kukai).  He may or may not have founded all of them, but 8 is a holy number in Buddhism (the Eight-fold path) and 88 is certainly that much better.  In any case, the tradition has been around for a while.

Only a few kilometres from the Shikoku Mura is temple #84, the Yashima-ji. and I figured, why not try perhaps to do 8 of these temples while I am on the island. Of course, you won’t see me in a pilgrim’s hat and for sure I will do as much air conditioned comfort travel via bus or train as possible, but Matsuyama, my next stop has a few of these temples all in the vicinity of one city – why not?

But for now I will go to bed – it’s going to be an early day tomorrow: Up by 6 AM to squeeze in a visit to the Naguchi Museum and Garden before departing to my next destination.

Good night.