Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kyushu & Shikoku Travels - 高松市 (Takamatsu)

Takamatsu was our fifth stop in this whirlwind travel around Kyushu and Shikoku and is the capital of the smallest prefecture in Japan. Takamatsu is famous for the best Udon in Japan – Sanuki Udon.

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It was interesting that this traditional dish was sold in a non-traditional and sort of fast-food way. Basically you had to get a tray and a small plate for the side dishes of tempuras and other add-ons which were placed along the counter and thereafter order your Udon (dry, soup, different stock etc.) and collected it at the end of the counter where you make your payment at the cashier.

Oh, and the Tan Tans also affirmed their suspicion that Udon was introduced to Japan by China. Basically Udon was introduced some 1200years by Kobo-daishi (the enlightened one that started Mount Koya and Esocentric Buddhism in Japan in the earlier blog) when he was in China as stated in the sign below.

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Shikoku is also a place where there are strong beliefs in Buddhism and has 88 temples which some pilgrims did the pilgrimage every year, walking some 4,000km in weeks. One of the most popular shrine in Shikoku is near Takamatsu and it’s one of our 2 must visit place in Shikoku – 金刀比羅神社Kompirasan in Kotohira.

 IMG_0942 IMG_0943Arriving in Kotohira and saw this nice old tower that was near the station but I had no idea what was it for… haha.

 

 

 

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There was only one way to Kompirasan and that was UP. And up the Tan Tans went, climbing over 800 steps to reach the shrine panting when they reached only steps 168. It was good that there are some shops along the climb for the first portion of it so that one could still rest before moving on.

 

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This little gal was outstanding as she barely pants after climbing the 800 over steps to the main shrine of kompirasan and was happily humming away. The Tan Tans? hmmmmm……

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 IMG_0966  Oh, saw this pilgrim at the entrance of the main shrine. He was basically standing there and asking for alms without “asking”.

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This was the main shrine of Kompirasan and the Tan Tans gave up on seeing the inner shrine which was another 800 over steps to go.

IMG_1009 IMG_1000Look at the view of Kotohira and the golden wheat field. It was a no brainer why they have the best Udon in Japan.

 

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A jar for wishes and I wished for World Peace! YEAH!

 

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Rows of donor plaques, that reinforced the fact of it being the most popular shrine in Shikoku.

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Mr Tan Tan was exhausted after the climb and treated himself to some sake and got a nice brandy cake at his old old shop. It tasted absolutely fantastic!

 

IMG_1036 The golden crops taken from the train on our way to the next popular spot in Takamatsu, 栗林公園 Ritsurin Koen!

Ritsurin Koen is easily Japan’s most beautiful Japanese-style landscape garden and the Tan Tans would definitely recommend it to anyone that might go to Takamatsu.

Ritsurin Koen is said to have taken 100 years to complete and features six ponds and 13 artificial mountains. There are also a teahouse, folk museum, some shops and rest places located in the park.

IMG_1078IMG_1082 What is Singapore’s Japanese garden?

IMG_1047 OK, this is supposed to look like crane on a tiger. Can you see it?

  IMG_1059  An interesting round well.

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In a Japanese garden, you definitely find one thing – Koi or Japanese carp. And the people definitely loved it!

Done with Ritsurin Koen, the Tan Tans bid farewell to Takamatsu and travelled to 徳島 Tokushima.