Memories of the Sea vol.3 – The Camphor Trees of The Ōmishima Island –
The Camphor Trees Island - in ancient times, the massive numbers of Camphor trees had once covered over the whole of the island more than now.
The Ōmishima Island, an island symbolized the Geiyo Islands – has huge Haiden, the hall of prayer, called Ōyamazumi Shrine.
A god of Ōyamazumi – called Watashi-no-kami, meaning the god crossed from Baekje in Korea. Ōyamazumi had deified by an ancestor of the Ochi clan who pioneered Iyo Province when he had reached from the continents. On this beautiful island – the Ōmishima Island – is not only a place where has been prayed carefully, but also has been protected.
It has worshiped as a god of mountains, also war and sea god for a long time. Therefore, a lot of samurais used to visit there to pray the fortune of war. In the middle ages, the power of the clan who originated on the island reached a peak. And it appeared that over 50 buildings had been standing in a row. On this island, huge elderly trees have survived over 2600 years old.
To take possession of them, is equal to gain control of “Voyage = Marine transportation,” which was the primary market at that time. Thus, it is too easy to imagine that the island had a great strong force.
The Seto Inland Sea is the main artery of transportation, and also a crucial point. The transportation system on the main island of Japan composes centered on the ocean route in the Seto Inland Sea, since ancient times to the present time. It has the role of a hub to bridge between Northern Kyushu (Dazaifu) and Kinai (Naniwazu) as a primary route of ships. It was also a meaningful traffic route that Japanese missions to Korea or China, called Kentōshi, used when departing from Kinai (Naniwazu).
At present, Imabari city, including the Geiyo Islands, has 14 large dockyards and becomes the most massive maritime city in Japan. It is not sure if the ancient memories have inherited. However, the old Camphor trees gently tell us a story; people who had once reached from those countries on the continents to this island had passed across the vast ocean, survived from the rough sea. Then, they had a pioneer vision and an energetic spirit, opened a “new world” in a place where they finally reached – they had spent the best wisdom and energy they possessed and everything in their life –
Farther into the island – you can find a giant Camphor tree if you go ahead the narrow way surrounded by mandarin orange farms. About 30 meters around the root – it is an enormous sizeable elderly tree over 3000 years old. The tree’s roots are the so-called a “Gate” and bend your head to go under among them.
The Shinbutsu-shūgō Buddhism temple that had once co-existed in the Ōyamazumi Shinto Shrine – if you pass under the large root, the Okuno-in of the Jingū-Ji, which is the shrine temple, is still there. The dignified atmosphere and high energy as coming close are tremendous even though it is a natural and straightforward wooden structure. If you stand there, it forces you to feel every thought, such as ‘Shinen’ of those who determined desperately.
The Camphor tree has planted firmly on the island for a long time. It seems that it has been overseeing “Beginning” or “Ending,” respectively, and keep absorbing the entire thoughts over the centuries.
The Camphor tree is a symbol of “Memories” on the island. It ensures that there is a special place.
- PhotosYoshiyuki Mori
- WordsAtsuko Ogawa
- DesignNoriaki Hosaka
- Translation Mina Ishikawa