In this talk, I showed slides from two visits to Honshu, Japan's largest island, and described my impressions from travelling through Japan, walking, hitch-hiking and on public transport, visiting temples and staying in monasteries. In particular I will described two hikes I made along the pilgrimage trails to Koyasan and Ominesan, holy places for the Shingon and Shugendo buddhist sects.
Lanterns Kasuga Taisha shrine
Omine-san is a mountain sacred to the shugendo sect of buddhism (another syncretism with shinto, with more shamanistic traits) on the Kii peninsula, traditionally visited on August the first every year by the yamabushi (mountain priests) in the omine okugake shugyo pilgrimage. I hiked the trail for four days, and since it was out of season saw nobody for 48 hours. It was eerie to be so isolated in this sacred place. Carmen Blacker (see below) tells some fascinating tales about the practices of the yamabushi pilgrimage. It rained for much of the walk, the track was obscured by logging and there were several snakes, but it was a fascinating experience.
Swan and stone lantern.
Hida Folk village
Main world shrine, Takayama