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Showing posts from August, 2014

Neon pilgrim dreams

I've thought more about Dempster's experiences in  Neon Pilgrim  and I realise that I've often imagined many of them in detail myself. As a youth up in Queensland each evening I used to fantasise about walking down the hill from the family residence (Not my home. It was not my home) and trekking all the way by foot south to Melbourne, the home of my heart. As I step off the bus at night and walk towards home I picture myself in Japan, walking the dark and quiet streets to a bland hotel on the outskirts of town. Everything is closed, but the run down pachinko parlour with its flashing neon lights and clatter of balls, a petrol station, maybe a diner and the ubiquitous convenience store, a source of packaged sustenance and supplies for the hungry traveller, of pot noodles and meat buns kept warm by the counter. And sometimes as I sit out in the cold air late on a Winter's night I dream not of the hotel room, but of seeking shelter from the rain under the awning of

Henro Michi

I've just devoured Lisa Dempster's book Neon Pilgrim  about her 88 temple pilgrimage around the Japanese island of Shikoku. She's a depressed and overweight Australian lady who walks the henro michi, a 1,200 kilometre pilgrim trail around Shikoku in the hope of regaining her health and confidence. The rugged Eastern coast of Shikoku Today many Japanese follow the path of Kobo Daishi, the monk who introduced Shingon Buddhism to Japanese, by bus or car, stopping at each temple along the way. But Dempster walked almost the entire journey. Her book describes her struggles along the way, the tradition of settai , gifts to the pilgrims, and observations of Shikoku. Whilst I'm not sure I would wish to forgo as many comfortable beds as she, sleeping on benches, under the stars or toilet blocks more often than not, the thought of walking through Japan is quite seductive and definitely on my list of things to do there. Many of Shikoku's temples are located in the