The cabin of my dreams

· Decoration, Illustration

Here I am again to share some inspirations of decoration to dream a little. I have always loved small living places (to live in a huge castle = not made for me!) and since I was a kid, I have always had the same passion for cabins.

 

Therefore, I decided to draw the house of my dream in an unrealistic scenery (= sakura trees growing in the middle of a lake!) but as we are in a dream, why should I hold back?

Below are a few inspiring photos I pinned on a dedicated Pinterest board “Dreamy cabins” (you can find all the credits and more pictures on my Pinterest account).

 

 

I love the cosy atmosphere of the wood and nature and when the decoration is a sweet mix of warmness/minimalism/raw materials/practicality, I am in heaven. Pleasure for the eyes now that might become a reality one day! (English translation by Quiterie)

Oboke and the Iya valley

· Food, Illustration, Travel

Let’s go back to our Japanese roadtrip on our way to the Oboke Gorges and Iya Valley for one day of adventure!

After leaving Awaji toward Kōchi, where we stayed 2 nights, we left Kōchi for a 1-day visit of the valley, but as I was saying beforehand, it would have been smarter to stop by the Iya valley one night before going to Kōchi (cf. map). Our organization was a bit random this time but at least you’ll be know when you’ll organise your own trip.

 

The access

Trains and buses stop by this place (Oboke station) but I have to admit that the car was very convenient to optimize our day, we stopped wherever we wanted and we didn’t have to wait for the next bus/train. A true freedom in this wilder area… still with tourists though!

Actually there is quite a lot of things to see/do in this Iya valley if you like nature. As for us we couldn’t spend too long considering our short trip in Japan but I could have stayed a whole week to enjoy hiking, onsen and local food specialities…

 

Boat trip on the Yoshino river

The weather that day was absolutely perfect to admire the Oboke Gorges. We decided to take a boat to see the Gorges from another angle. Very pleasant this boat trip on the Yoshino river, even though a bit short.

 

The rafting might be more interesting and spectacular: to choose depending on the time you have and/or your will of sensation. Don’t hesitate to stop by the office of tourism in Miyoshi or to ask around what could be interesting to do: that’s the way we usually do.

We had the chance to admire the Oboke Gorges with flying Koi carps (= “Koinobori”), leftover after the 5th of May, the day celebrating kids.

The autumnal season might also be a nice timing to visit the Gorges with the red leaves sublimating the place.

 

The Kazurabashi bridge

This hanging bridge might be a nightmare for everyone afraid of the high but, if you can fight your fear, it worth the detour… to be crossed!

This 15m high bridge made of vine is 45m long and 2m large and it crosses the Iya river. This plant material was used to be easily destroyed in case of an enemy attack: reassuring isn’t it?… Just so you know, this bridge has been consolidated with wire cables. (Feel better?)

We went there in the middle of the afternoon: it wasn’t really the tourist season (end of May) but it might be a better idea to go there in the morning. We mostly met old Japanese people who surprised me with their motivation and courage!

I took a few shots at personal risk (or better say my phone’s risk!) to get nice memories of this bridge coming straight out from an episode of Indiana Jones… Let’s say that I was not walking in a very confident way!

 

Other points of interest

Here is the list of places to visit around if you have the chance to stay longer:

Book one night (or more) in a hotel with onsen and a view overlooking the valley (Nanoyado Iya onsen, Kenmi Onsen, Sunriver Oboke…).

-Hike to the top of Mont Tsuruji.

-Visit the traditional village of Ochiai (and even stay one night for an authentic experience).

-Take a tour on the “Oku-Iya” monorail located in Sugeoi.

-Cross another bridge Oku-Iya Niju Kazurabashi if you enjoyed the first one. Possibility to cross on a wooden box/tyrolean for the adventurers.

 

A few yummy addresses

Here are a few addresses to discover the local food specialities (I only quickly tried the first one (=they were about to close but accepted to serve us as last customers!)… but the other addresses seem to have some potential too!).

 

Tarai udon Nimiya (たらいうどん 新見屋) (100-1 Kanbata, Miyagawauchi, Donari-cho, Awa city) : Udon to dip in a sauce with a nce river view

Tarai udon with a view

 

Iya soba Momijitei 祖谷そばもみじ亭 (1468-1 Yamashirocho Nishiu, Miyoshi) : soba noodles made with buckwheat in a traditional 200 years old house.

Obokeyo Mannaka (1520 Yamashirocho Nishiu, Miyoshi) : try a menu dedicated to the legendary monsters of the region: the “yokai” made of ramen, soba, ice…

 

I hope you liked this stop in the valley of Iya: as always it’s a pleasure for me to share this trip with you. I have this feeling to be back there, which is very pleasant! Next time we will continue and go back to the civilization in the city of Kōchi! See you soon! (English translation by Quiterie)

The 88 temples of Shikoku

· Fashion, Illustration, Travel

Before starting to tell you “in order” about our Japanese roadtrip from last May-June, since we left Awaji and finally arrived on the Shikoku island, here is an article to give you some context about this island.

When we decided to visit Shikoku, we knew that the 88 temples pilgrimage was pretty famous and it would rhythm our days of visit. We didn’t do the whole trail but we tried to stop by as much temples as possible when crossing the path.

The occasion for me to write down a few notes if you want to start this adventure or at least some of it as we did… but if possible with respect of the traditions!

 

The Shikoku pilgrimage

The pilgrimage called “henro” is quite famous in Japan and can be compared to St Jacques de Compostelle but easy to access for everyone, religious or not.

This trail retraces the path taken by the Shingon Buddhist monk, Kōbō Daishi aka Kûkai, who passed by these 88 spots of Shikoku in 805. His body rests in Koyasan near Osaka: therefore the full pilgrimage includes the 88 temples on the island and a last stop in Koyasan.

 

This being said, the purpose of this pilgrimage is quite personal: some people seeks for spirituality, others want to pray for health, success for themselves or someone else, or more simply they want to surpass themselves or look for a change of scenery.

We saw pilgrims in a bus (mostly old people) stopping by each temple and other courageous ones walking. We even met a Danish pilgrim who had been walking for the past 2 months on his own. In fact, there is no specific rules.

 


The itinerary

As for us, as we didn’t want to start a long walk for the next 2-3 months, we added this mini-pilgrimage to our road trip and stopped by all the temples on our way or close by for the first temples and the last one (N°88). Here is above the map of the full itinerary in case you feel like a true pilgrim.

Here are the 19 temples we have visited :
1.Ryozenji 2.Gokurakuji 3.Konsenji 4.Dainichiji 5.Jizoji 6.Anrakuji 7.Jurakuji 31.Chikurinji 39.Enkoji 40.Kanjizaiji 41.Ryukoji 42.Butsumukoji 43.Meisekiji 51.Ishiteji 68.Jinnein 69. Kannonji 70.Motoyamaji 75.Zentsuji 88.Okuboji

A lot of signs with the symbol of a walker can be seen and followed on the road. The itinerary is divided as follow:

  • Awakening : Awa (Tokushima prefecture) – Temples 1 to 23
  • Discipline : Tosa (Kôchi prefecture) – Temples 24 to 39
  • Enlightenment : Iyo (Ehime prefecture) – Temples 40 to 65
  • Entering Nirvana : Sanuki (Kagawa prefecture) – Temples 66 to 88

Beforehand I read a book from Marie-Édith Laval “Comme une feuille de thé à Shikoku” who tells her walking solo experience on Shikoku island with only a backpack and her hiking shoes.

I recommend you to read it to get a good idea of the ambiance. It seems that this pilgrimage has transformed her due to the efforts made, hurdles and human encounters: very inspiring !

 

The pilgrim outfit

Here again, we are free to wear whatever we want (always with decency, obviously) but if you want to fully take part in this pilgrimage you can purchase this outfit and accessories at the shop located at the entrance of the temples. I quickly sketched a typical outfit of the pilgrim in Shikoku.

To sum up, for a full « henro » outfit you need:

  • The white shirt “Hakui” (this color is related to death because back then a lot of pilgrims died during their journey: encouraging isn’t it?): The back of the jacket is printed with symbols in honor of Kûkai.
  • The “Sugegasa” conic hat : to be protected from the rain or the heat.
  • The “Kongozue” wooden stick supposed to represent KûKai: it will be your travel companion (I saw a few beautiful ones with the top part embroidered with fabric).
  • The “Wagesa” stole to wear around the neck.
  • The “Zudabukuro” bag (and its “Jirei” bell hooked) to carry a Nokyocho notebook (I will tell you about this after), incense sticks, candles, “samefuda” (=cards with the name of the pilgrim to leave in each temple), a book of prayers(=kyohon)…
  • A Buddhist rosary “Juzu” for prayers.

 

How to visit a temple ?

Clearly, it will depend on your religious belief but knowing the tradition might help you to better understand the pilgrims you’ll meet.

No obligation to follow everything and you can simply admire the places but here is the basic you need to know:

At the entrance of the temple, the pilgrim joins his hands in front of his chest and bow 3 times while saying 3 phrases in the honor of Buddha. Then, he purifies his hands (and sometimes the mouth) with water. And he must visit:

  • The main temple Hondo (dedicated to the temple divinity) (where he will pronounce a few phrases and throw coins into the wooden box, then put a “samefuda” card into another box, ring the gong, burn an incense stick and will pray while bowing)
  • The Daishido (dedicated to Kûkai): (with a phrase to repeat 3 times)
  • The Nokyocho desk : the place where his notebook will be marked down with calligraphy.

When exiting the temple, the pilgrim must turn back and bow with his hands joined and hop ! Direction to the next temple!

 

The nokyocho and its calligraphies

This notebook can be purchased in each temple: I bought mine at the first one, it has illustrations of all the temples on the pages so it was easy for me to recognize them. It also exists with blank pages.

When we arrive at the nokyocho desk (can be easily found with a drawing of a small mascot), after paying 300¥, we give our notebook to the calligrapher who will draw with his pencil. He then affixes 3 seals, which symbolize the name of the temple’s god (called “honzon”), the name of the temple and his number.

Some calligraphers don’t want to be photoshoot while drawing: make sure to ask first. The calligrapher then gives you an envelop with a card (I didn’t really understand the meaning but take it, it can only mean luck!).

We are far from having our notebook full but it represents a really nice souvenir of this journey though… and who knows! I might have the chance to finish it in the coming years?

So here is this pilgrimage in a nutshell (you can find videos in my Highlighted Instastories). I will come back soon to tell you about Obokke on the way to Kōchi! See you soon! (English translation by Quiterie)

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