DOGO AND DAISHI
|Day 11 60km We have a decent ride on wide sidewalks, then along the sea, through fishing towns with small harbors.|
We have renewed energy.
CLICK ON PHOTO ABOVE
Heading for Matsuyama, Shikoku's largest city and hometown for 'haiku', a literary art form, where three out of ten residents are said to be haiku poets. It is also home to the Dogo Onsen, one of the oldest and best known hot spring spas in Japan.
We call ahead for a private room at the Youth Hostel.
But again we can't find it!
(ROUTE 20 WHICH WAY???)
We ride around looking but end up stopping at a high class hotel for directions. Out walks a GEISHA, all dressed to the hilt. SHE GASPS when she see's US! Ahh like wise!
Of course we are just down the hill from our destination in the old Dogo section.
Checked in, we head straight for the Dogo Onsen a 5 min. walk. It is MAGNIFICENT!!!
The Old Dogo Onsen
Getting in is a bit confusing. You pay outside for either a basic bath ($3) or ($6) for a bath followed by tea and a snack and a yukata to wear. ($9 to $12.40) you get the tama-no-yo (Bath of the Spirits) followed by tea and a sweet dumpling.
Steve stops to put his bag of valuable in a locker and decides to put his socks in there too. This sets off a panic!
They think this gaijin is about to disrobe in the lobby!!
I opt for the Kami-no-yu (Water of the Gods) and hope this heals my wounds.
I enter a hot steamy granite room with huge murals of white herons and a stone fountain spilling warm water in a deep granite pool. Ladies of every shape and size are either lounging, doing yoga or beating themselves with massage wands.
The white heron is
a symbol of Dogo Onsen. As legend says long, long ago a wounded white
heron was seen to bathe here as if it knew the healing effect of the hot
spring. They are not only for healing physical ailments, the alkaline
water contains minerals supposed to be good for rheumatism, skin
diseases and wounds. I have come to the right place.
Then breaking out into the 'asahi' our view is extended to a mountain top across a tight valley. There on top is a huge statue rising up above the trees in a morning haze. It is SURREAL!!
A huge sitting Buddha statue is out of place with the face of a bearded westerner, it's body emaciated, ribs showing, face gaunt. There is an unusual smell, like wet earth.
Not a 'tunnel person', I back out and yell for Steve who has passed it by. He is immediately intrigued.
(Oh No what have I done - another dark tunnel and Steve comes charging forth like a knight in shinning armor without his steed)
Do I turn and run? Do I follow? Not wanting to acknowledge I am the damsel in distress I am professed to be, I storm in after him as he disappears into the darkness.
We meet up at the flashing lights. What is this place? How far does it go? We are surrounded by mandelas, etched in the walls of an alcove, little stone statues, a spray of twinkling lights hanging over our heads illuminating this eerie space with each strobe.
Oh NO, we simultaneously express the same thought....
HAVE WE ENTERED SOMEONE'S CRYPT??
We are both stunned into silence!!
There are little stone statues in a line going down deeper into the now totally dark tunnel.
We are both overwhelmed with a sense of curiosity......turning back is not an option. We are now committed to KNOW what is this WAY??
We stay to the left of the statues and not to bump our heads we keep our left hand on the wall and move rapidly and silently along into darkness.
Hearts pounding, feet shuffling faster and faster we come into another alcove with even more bizarre statues, white calligraphy on black walls, offerings illuminated by a dim light. We are now at least 1/2 a kilometer inside.
Our fear has turned to calm, as if the amazement of our surroundings is all consuming.
And then......off in the distance we see a man size figure illuminated by a speck of daylight.
There is the smell of inscents getting stronger as we gingerly approach the figure. It is a brightly painted statue facing outward which seems to be guarding an opening. Then the sound of voices getting louder and then .....
................................a hugely loud GONG of a bell!!!
Low and behold we are somewhere in
the middle of the Ishite-ji Temple grounds.
The wall painted with the mandelas, angles and lotus flowers, is the Buddha's Way. It is said that
you will be safely guided as long as you are on His Way.