Monday, July 13, 2009

Forgotten roads

There is a landscape that lays like lattice-work across the mountains and deep valleys of Otaki. This landscape is spiritual in nature--attuned to the sacred Mount Ontake, which stands at its center. Once well trodden roads articulate with points of power or significance where statues or other markers stand. However, these markers and roads are disappearing into forests that are now rarely visited by humans.

A series of etched stones depicting the Buddha Kannon roughly denote the geography of a road that once connected the hamlet of Kashimo with the hamlet of Takigoshi. This road continued on to Mount Ontake and was used heavily by pilgrims. The stories, goods, and even marriage partners of local residents also traversed the road.

Most of the Kannon stones remain, though a few have still yet to be found. Local residents on both sides are working to keep the road visible. . .to maintain it as part of the landscape. Few, however, know of its existence. Without taking the time to walk the road, one only sees a forested hillsides.


ted said...

Glad to find a kindred spirit out there. My own walks have completely altered how I look at a landscape here. It also changed the focus of my impending grad school return. Seems those old roads still have some power.

If you guys are in Kyoto in August, let's all do a walk...

Tornadoes28 said...

I wonder how old those Kannon stones are?

Taintus said...

Hi Tornadoes28,

Many of the statues have been replaced over the years, and so many date to the Meiji Period (around the turn of the last century) or later. However, the road itself has existed since the Edo Period--probably for more than 300 years.