Raymond TAIT, Australia Rounding Shikoku
Encounter on the pilgrimage — Japan Postman Mt. Ishizuchi
Whilst on the Ohenro Trail and finishing my visit to Temple 60 Yokomineji, I decided to go further up the road by Bus (about 10 Kms) and Ropeway to visit the Base Station of Mount Ishizuchi, West Japan’s Highest Peak standing at 1,982 Meters. The base camp area was a small village made up of simple accommodation, restaurants, winter sports Skiing & Snowboarding chairlift and a Shinto Shrine at 1,450 Meters high.
I was not planning to climb Ishizuchi-san that day, as it fondly referred to here on Shikoku. After visiting the Shinto Shrine, I could not help but notice a “Pilgrim” looking person all dressed in white and snapped a photo of him. The view from on the shrine’s outer buildings had an amazing picture window view of Mt. Ishizuchi framed behind the Alter; which was covered in Snow along its peak. As I was told by the Innkeeper that first heavy snow of the year was only two weeks prior to my visit.
So, off to Lunch in one of two small cafes open that day & as I sat across from the Shinto Pilgrim exchanging stories; in walked an official looking fellow with a red satchel slung over his shoulder, as he placed several envelopes on the counter……ahh, I said to myself, it’s the “Postman”! But what is that Red Satchel looking thing; curiosity got the best of me; so I stood up and enquired what was it?
The explanation was truly amazing, and he proudly explained that it was a “Shell Horn” and he uses it to announce the arrival of the mail three days a week to the surrounding Mountain Villages and Hamlets.
Serving a dual purpose; the arrival of the mail and if someone forgot something to mail out; they could locate him by following the sound of the Horn. Astounded by this story, I asked him if I could take his photo with the Shell Horn; he proudly said yes and then I dare one step further – could sound your Shell Horn for my Video Log; he agreed, and we went outside, and he sounded the Horn with such pride & Joy……
I will never forget the Mountain Postman of Ishizuchi-san!!