The car followed a river of teal and aquamarine, which wound around boulders it had carved out of the mountain. Some of the boulders were as big as my flat, but the scene didn't have that jagged violence that I have been inspired by in other Japanese landscapes. Though the scale of nature was impressive next to the size of our little car, the I felt calmed rather than excited about it.
This was Ehime during Golden Week. A lot of people would be out visiting family, catching Covid in restaurants and among friends. So I decided to go out to nature. Somewhere long and hard that would make the 3-day weekend feel worth it. I decided to climb Mt. Ishizuchi.
Ishizuchi is about 2,000 meters high. I haven't climbed a mountain that high in forever. The peak is a large rocky outcrop which seems to fold over like the hook of a nose. Perhaps it's for that reason that a Tengu, a long-nosed creature of the spirit world, is worshipped there and there are festivals performed on the mountain each summer, despite the danger of falling off the rocks. This Tengu is the protector of the mountain. He protects the trees, the rocks, the wildlife. . . And people seem to think he'll protect you too, if you send him your prayer. But I think if I'm going to pray at a mountain shrine, I'm not going to pray for my safety, I'm going to pray that the mountain's biodiversity stays balanced and thrives. At least I believe that's the kind of prayer that the Tengu would honor.( Collapse )