Andrew’s world in Japan

Coins resting on water

Coins resting on water

Andrew
Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring th
creative process & connecting with other creative people.

Ever Evolving

View from the platform

View from the platform

Histories are an amazing complicated ever evolving feature of the human experience. Cataloging stories in scripts, on papers or documents made of animal skins. Now, well into the sci-fi future that should have us in fl ying cars, the year 2015, we have a more virtual form of storing information called the internet. Sure, the data is physically encoded somewhere, on some object. To our eyes though, it is not so readily visible. As I climbed the numerous steps, 785 to reach the specifi c top, I was not thinking about all these things. I didn´t really even consider the importance that the mountain said resemble an elephants head, the esteemed Zozu-san.

In the town of Kotohira in the Kagawa prefecture rests a rich history of Kami´s and God´s watching over those who pay respect to them. This location is a major Shinto pilgrimage site receiving roughly 4 million visitors a year. On October 10th, the town becomes host to a huge festival in honor of the main God. Who or what exactly that God is or called is where some complications can arise. Fortunately, there were no complications during my visit. Hiking the steps is nothing like the Batu Caves in Malaysia. It is a longer more drawn out experience. With shops of all sorts lining the sides of the steps. Some neat memories shared with my friends family as we paused to pet cats, snap photos and inspect the trinkets and gifts.

One of the highlights for me was heavily protected and a bit diffi cult to see screen paintings and decorated door panels. These works of art were crafted by Oukyo Maruyama who lived from 1735 to 1795. Obviously these ancient works warrant the protection they receive, regardless of the impact on visibility. Prior to these, you can notice the golden propeller that was a gift to the shrine from a local ship builder. Even at the very beginning of the walk, history plays a role as the only accepted hawker shops at the Ō-mon stone gateway represent the original fi ve farmers allowed to sell their goods. Today, current owners of these fi ve red painted stalls called th

Kompira-san in the setting sun

Kompira-san in the setting sun

e Gonin Byakushō are not direct decedents, just there to maintain history.

Once we reach the top most shrine, it´s time for a break. Large wooden platforms offer an expansive view of the Shikoku countryside rewarding our efforts. The main shrine, Kompira-san is a 30 to 40 minute ascent, and is the largest shrine complex. Respected spirits are called Kami, and here they are guardians. Mainly they specialize in protecting seafarers and fi shermen, but over time they have expanded their protection. These are named the thunder Kami (raijin), agricultural Kami (nōkōjin), water Kami (suijin) and defi nitely guardian Kami (rusugami). Buddhist infl uences have been absorbed and are a natural part of the general progression as the local culture and economy grew. For me, the day seemed much like any other. Under beautiful clouds and sunlit sky, I usually feel well protected. During my visit, I really knew next to nothing about the Kami. I hope they didn´t mind. Throughout my travels I do feel well protected, so maybe they keep an eye on me.

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