Dangerous Typhoon Approaching

Hello all,

This is an important public service message for any and all hikers and pilgrims on the Shikoku Pilgrimage at this time. You may not have access to news reports, especially in Japanese, and could possibly be unaware of the typhoon that is steadily approaching Japan at this time.

The size of the typhoon was classified today by Meteorological experts as a “Super Typhoon” or a “Class 5” typhoon. The course of the typhoon is to reach Japan sometime during the weekend, but speed and direction of any typhoon can only be measured in estimates. The centre of the storm may be to the east of Shikoku, but there are very strong cautions regarding dangerous winds that need to be considered.

One of the most dangerous elements of a typhoon is not so much the wind and rain itself, but rather, wind strong enough to move debris. As you may have noticed, many rural houses have clay tiled roofs. These can fall apart and become projectiles in heavy wind and have been known to cause serious injury to people. There is also a danger of falling trees, light posts, and power lines. It may not be safe.

If you are on the Shikoku Pilgrimage I strongly suggest that you make your way via train or bus to the nearest city to you. Takamatsu, Tokushima city, Kochi city, and Matsuyama are the best places for you at this time. In the wake of a disaster there can be a great deal of infrastructure trouble and damage. I would recommend that you take a three day break and enjoy and explore the local restaurants and amenities of Japanese city life until it is safe enough to get back out on the trail.

While it may be true that this giant typhoon may adjust course and have minimum impact on Shikoku, your health and safety are not things to risk. So, please be prudent and smart and stay out of the weather for a few days.

How to Get to Takamatsu!

Ok, so there are some “usual” ways to come to Takamatsu, via airport, and that is great. You can catch flights from Tokyo, Shanghai, Taipei, Seoul, and Hong Kong. All those places will take you direct to the airport. And then you are here! Yay!

But… and this is kind of a fun way to come to Shikoku too, you could come by overnight train. The SETO SUNRISE! It can be caught in Tokyo or Yokohama and departs around 9:00pm. You get on, find your bed or bunk, depending on how much you spend. Make sure you have lots of snacks and drinks, and then ride the rails all night until you wake up in glorious Shikoku.

You’ll get some “wake up call” along the way so you won’t miss the incredible sights of the Seto Inland Sea, so that is like a bonus.

Seriously, I took it once and loved it. I will surely do it again. So, take a look at this great video about what it looks like from the inside!

SETO SUNRISE. Inquire with the JR ticket counter!

Giving Advice to Ohenro

… I am not a number… I am a FREE MAN!

Hello and welcome from sunny Takamatsu! The weather is still a little warm, but summer seems to be lessening its grip. The evenings are cooling down, and my dogs don’t seem too much to walk outside as much as before. Autumn really is my favourite season. It is divine. And if you are considering coming to Japan for the walk of your life around Shikoku, THIS is the season to do it. Autumn just goes on forever, and when the typhoons have settled down for the duration, you have some of the greatest outdoor walking experiences of your life.

A few things have changed for me personally this year. The first is that I turned 50. I can’t believe it myself as I still sometimes feel like a junior high school student, and sometimes I feel like I really don’t know so much, or that I should have studied or tried more up until now. But the other side of being 50 is that I am on the cusp of being “respectable” or “seasoned” or “grizzled” or something like that… It’s a blast, and it’s a riot. But I feel good, and I am grateful for health and a sense of humour relatively intact.

Maybe there is something about being half a century that I am finding that “my advice” is sought out, and much more so than I expected, or particularly enjoy. It’s a new thing, and I do not particularly think I have much “advice” to give anyone, about anything. But life does seem to kick you down the road where you need to be sometimes.

At my half-century mark, I am a boss of a company my wife and I created. We run language schools and serve universities, high schools, junior highs, elementary schools, and daycares. I love it. I love our work, our team, our students, and every time I sit with kids and make them laugh while encouraging them, and revealing to them, how smart they really are.

In the past I’ve been a university professor (in another life), a teacher, a counsellor for street kids, a guide, a coach, a karate sensei, a writer, and a terrible guitar player. I’ve had a lot of hats on my balding head, but I never thought that I wore them to become “authoritative” or an “expert”. I still feel like I am flailing about in all my interests and professions. I’m still learning. I’m still “tripping up the stairs”.

I don’t think that this is particularly “modest”. I am just basically not a master at so many different things. But I have fun as I go along, stubbornly.

And maybe there is something in my half-century old spine that is still that teenager in the 1980’s that could not be told what to do. I have always rejected authority. I never like being told what to do and often ignore “sage counsel”. I have defied both church and state. I have “rocked the Casbah” and I might do it again.  I’m not an anarchist, but I’d rather die free than live in a cage. I rage against the machine, but now with dad jokes, mirth, and pint of beer.

So, as we are working on this Ohenro project with local business, government, and financial institutions, and there are various groups and interested individuals, who have proffered themselves as “experts” and “authority” on what newcomers to the experience of pilgrimage ought to know and ought to do and ought to feel. They clamber for adulation and spotlight. They bow their heads in mock obsequiousness, chant the “Heart Sutra” in public, yet backbite, make ultimatums, and gossip in private. They enter the room and it’s much more of a “waving about their flimsy credentials” than figuring out how together we can work best towards a common purpose. Honestly, it’s gross.

It’s a sad state sometimes when “politics” and jockeying for position distract us from the important task of making this incredible Shikoku Pilgrimage project something accessible, enjoyable, and meaningful for those who come to walk the miles. I don’t want to have my time and energy wasted in vain and frankly, vulgar, pursuits.

I’m too old to be baited out for public nonsense, but am still stubbornly set on trundling ahead, and just doing my job. And that job is to be of service to my fellow human creatures, unapologetically, unflinchingly, and to see whatever project I am in to completion. I cannot be deterred. There’s a lot of people out there who would love to learn more about this incredible thing in Shikoku. My job is to get to as many of them as possible.

So, if you are a soon-to-be, or already-here-in-Shikoku pilgrim, you are most heartily welcome here. You do not need to bow to authority. I don’t think that is what a pilgrimage of “self-discovery” and “self-exploration” is all about. You just may want to get on the road and find your own way. You don’t need to be told how to show respect, how to show kindness and gratitude, how to appreciate the culture and how to be a good person. I’ll bet that you already have a good handle on most of that. And if you don’t know yet, you’ll find out just fine, all by yourself.

And I’ll cheer for you! I always do.

If you need additional information to read or watch, please come out and check out our Facebook GROUP (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1318545221639576/) or our Facebook PAGE (https://www.facebook.com/Shikoku-Pilgrimage-Your-Spiritual-Journey-in-Deep-Japan-101681104549470). I would love to hear your experiences, see your photos, enjoy your videos, and learn from you.

Because isn’t that we ought to be doing anyway, learning from one another?

Your comments are most welcome, and feel free to email me if you are so inspired:

cometokagawa@gmail.com

Thanks for listening to me rant a little here.

Travel safe and travel well dear pilgrims.

Mark

Typhoon on the way

Hello Friends and Neighbours,

Just a quick friendly Public Service Announcement (PSA) for you. A pretty sizeable typhoon is coming this way and expected to make landfall later on today, perhaps this evening. Typhoon warnings, even when not seeming so bad at the moment, ought to be taken seriously. The weather can change suddenly and there there is no need to find yourself in an unsafe situation.

Various summer events, including the Awa Dance Festival, have been canceled or rescheduled.

So, in the meantime, please find a good place to stay dry and sheltered for the next day. Drink well. Eat well. Have a rest.

And stay safe!