I had known of Ayano Tsukimi before I walked up to her porch on a cold mountain morning. She’s the star of Fritz Schumann’s “The Valley of Dolls”, a documentary about her epic art project of populating Nagoro, her village in the upper Iya Valley, with dolls of the departed and the dead. We warmed ourselves by a charcoal fire with two of her human neighbors, and she brought me an exquisite breakfast of mountain vegetables she had picked. “That’s my 86-year-old father, weeding the garden” she said, pointing to one of the few living humans in the landscape. Nagoro was a day’s walk from the nearest train station, and it was like a hundred villages I had walked through, but she had turned what is otherwise only hinted at, by collapsing houses, abandoned cars, and overgrown orchards, into a brutal and explicit statement: that this is a dying land, there’s nothing anyone can do about it, and it will die with her. She showed me winter pictures of Nagoro: snow up to her knees, her old house heated by a wood-burning furnace. The turquoise waters and the emerald mountains can never compete with convenience stores and central heating. I walked out of Nagoro in the company of ghosts, and I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore, and I walked until I couldn’t walk anymore, into the clouds crashing on the summit of Mount Tsurugi. #japan#shikoku#tokushima#dolls#ayanotsukimi#nagoro#thevalleyofdolls#art
Love the decorations in the spacious resort lobby. It's a labour of love by T-Chan, the owner's wife. It's just so pretty & artistic!! 💙💙💛💛 I took 7 shots & this is my favourite 😊😊 I miss Kaiyu !!! Can't wait to come back again in the future!! 🌊🌊🌊💙💙💙 @kaiyu_inn
The second day was breathtakingly beautiful and extremely challenging at the same time. We climbed atop a mountain to visit Kakurinji Temple #20 (it means tsuru bird forest temple), built in year 798; over 1200 years ago (woah!). To get there, we walked 2+ hours of steep uphill and log steps. The path was hard, but the bamboo forests, rich greenery and chirping birds were just magical, my heart filled with gratitude🎋💚 After praying at the temple, we descended the mountain to climb another mountain toward Tairyuji Temple #21 (big dragon temple🐉). This one was built in year 793, and the hella devout builders wanted to make this high up in the mountains to get as close as possible to the heavens and the gods. My gosh they did a good job because I couldn't feel my legs by the end.
I was in absolute awe of the beauty and magnanimity of this temple. I knew this was the hardest one to reach, so I made my most sincere prayer up on top of this mountain😇🙏🏼 We took a rope way down the mountain - the view was stunning, but I was just relieved that I was going somewhere not on my own two sore feet😭👣 Soaking in the hot mineral bath at the lodge saved my life and I could feel my legs again 😊♨️ Asleep at 8pm, up at 3am (still jet lagged) and back at it again to the next temple💪🏼 #newyorker#ohenro#kakurinji#tairyuji#shikoku