February 16, 2012
In chapter 14 of Serpent of Time, Ryô joins a group of pilgrims headed to Mt. Kôya, the final stop on the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
Visitors to Mt. Kôya can retrace the course of the original women's pilgrimage, although only one of the temples survives to this day. On the map for the Koya Sanzan Route, the ruins of the Ryûjinguchi are next to the Daimon Gate. Mt. Benten is in the upper left.
Going on pilgrimages is popular form of participatory tourism in Japan, actual religious devotion not required. The most famous is the Shikoku Island pilgrimage, a walking tour of the eighty-eight temples established by, or devoted to, the Buddhist monk Kôbô Daishi.
Like the lesser-known Kumano Kodô pilgrimage up the Kii Penisula to Mt. Kôya (Kate's suggestion, by the way), the remoteness of these ancient routes from the Tokyo and Osaka megalopolises has largely preserved them intact.
Speaking of Shikoku, horror writer Masako Bandô has made Shikoku the equivalent of Steven King's Maine. Inugami, based on her novel, is a gorgeously-shot film, with heaps of gorgeously-shot sex and nudity and a wildly perverse Oedipus Rex plot.
The plot of the tamer Shikoku (the kanji in the title are pronounced the same but mean "death country") is based on the actual Shikoku pilgrimage. Judging by the movie, it's a campier, X-Files sort of actioner.