The Cicada's Summer Song
The Shikoku pilgrimage is a 1200km circular route around Japan's fourth largest island, visiting sacred sites associated with the 8th century 'Grand Master', Kobo Daishi. For over a thousand years, pilgrims have been walking in the footsteps of the Saint, leaving behind their regular lives and paying respects at the 88 Buddhist temples. Dressed in white robes and conical hats, modern day pilgrims cross mountains, forests and paddies, as well as teeming cities and busy highways.
The traditional seasons to make the circuit are cherry-blossom spring and golden-leaved autumn, so when Lu Barnham embarked on a summer pilgrimage in 2008, she discovered a sweltering, colourful island, wriggling with snakes and spiders, abundant with busy farmers tending bounteous crops. Despite her lack of Japanese language skills, she was met with smiles, gifts and encouragement from the local people, and for 51 days, her arduous solo trek was accompanied by the constant song of the cicada.
Lu set out to Shikoku hoping for a challenge, and a chance to experience Japanese culture by participating in an ancient Buddhist tradition. 'The Cicada's Summer Song' is an account of her journey.