Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shodoshima, Temples, Tea, and Puppies.

... or, one of the most amazing days I've had in Japan.

{Gorgeous, lavish Shodoshima}

Shodoshima is an island located off the coast of Shikoku, in the Inland Sea. It's only accessible by ferry, and is illustrious for its olive trees, and splendid scenery. I had been once before in August for the Art Festival, but this time was a completely different experience: I was lucky to be kindly invited by my friend Lorianne, who resides (and teaches) full-time on Shodoshima, and played tour guide for a day.

We set out for a hike in the lavish mountains, to see some temples that are part of the island's pilgrimage (Shodoshima has its own mini version of Shikoku's 88-temple pilgrimage), yet not before getting a little lost... which was part of the fun: we braved some bamboo forests and olive groves, and got magnificent views of the autumn colors and shimmering sea. A kind elderly man pointed us in the right direction, and after a few embarrassed laughs, we started the strenuous hike that would take us to a beautiful, colorful temple tucked in the mountains. The Buddhist priest welcomed us and showed us around, and the visit was made complete with a taiko drum performance, chanting, and some delicious olive tea.

We continued our hike to the next temple (after ringing the massive bell), where we met yet another friendly priest and his family, who invited us into their home for tea and cake. It was honestly the most incredible experience I've had in Japan, spending time with them, chatting about traveling, and playing with their adorable pug puppies (they had about eight of them!). We sat around the kotatsu table (a low table covered with a heated futon, to stay warm), and enjoyed tea and lovely company. We left their house at sunset, our arms full of presents (food, souvenirs, beverages), and invitations to come back anytime.

I hopped back on the ferry, waving good bye, and feeling so thankful to be experiencing such extraordinary Japanese kindness and hospitality. It made me sad to soon be leaving Shikoku and the countryside, as I'm not sure I'll ever find that in the city. Regardless, I feel so fortunate I was a part of this and met such wonderful people, and a big thank you to my generous friend Lorianne.

Shodoshima, I'll be back.

{Tully's latte for the morning ferry ride}

{A very merry ferry, complete with rainbows and a giraffe overlooking the sea}

{Bamboo forest}

{Olive trees... on Shodoshima you can get olive oil, olive soap, olive jam, and even olive socks...}

{Even the Shodoshima bus stops bear the cute olive character}

{A citrus tree}

{View of the Inland Sea, and the faraway Shikoku coast}

{Temple tucked in a tall mountain}

{Buddhist priest performing the taiko drum and chanting}

{Temple stairs and a gorgeous view of the sea}

{The house where the puppies live}

{The kind, warm-hearted Japanese family who welcomed and spoiled us}

{How cute is this baby pug?}

{Vivian and Lorianne, exhausted yet happy!}

{The panda ferry on the way back. Pandas and rainbows. I love Japan.}

{Olive crisps and olive jam... mmmm... ferry ride snack}


Anait said...

Looks like a lovely trip! And I've never heard of olive crisps/jam but since I love olives it seems like i'll have to look into it :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I envy your Japanese adventures. Sweden is covered in snow and the window next to my office desk is draped with foot-long icicles. Actually, it's quite pretty.

Rachel said...

oh how beautiful! i love these pictures. I want to go there.

Tee, Passports and Postcards said...

It does sound like an amazing day! Forests, temples, puppies and kawaii ferries- only in Japan!

pmak said...

Looks like such a fun trip and beautiful photos. Exploring new places, time spent with friends, and meeting interesting people is the best kind of day. - P

Rosemary said...

Ack! Apologies, I'm so behind in my bloggy reading! What an amazing trip--and such touching hospitality. Your hosts sounds like the nicest people EVER. And hello adorable puppies. I can't resist pugs--they're so compactly cute.

Miyan said...

Great post! The scenery is beautiful, you are so lucky to be there!! The temples look like something out of a movie--- and olive socks?? Unheard of..ha! :)

Pandas and rainbows, definetly a merry ferry, love it!


Maryjane said...

What fabulous pictures, I love seeing sights from around the world. Thank you for sharing!

Maryjane xoxo

Kelly said...

those ferry boats are hilarious!! what fun! love all of your pictures :)

mmmm and I love tully's coffee!!

Anonymous said...

sounds like a great experience! I love the panda ferry :)