Spiritland

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Spiritland follows Japan's most famous pilgrimage - a 1400 km trek around the country's fourth-largest island. The sacred journey begins at Koya monastery, where the monks chant endless sutras, scrub floors, and survive on a near-starvation diet of rice and pickles. Several shrines and temples along the pilgrim trail host unusual events - like the Naked Festival - where rival gangs fight viciously over a sacred Shinto stick. Even more unexpected is one-man sumo - where a sumo champ does battle with the local shrine god - and bull sumo - where two tons of angry bull battle it out in a titanic clash of razor-sharp horns. Pilgrims are well respected, and are often invited into the homes of farmers and fishermen and even the legendary female peal divers, the Samurai of the Sea. Seafood is a huge part of Shikoku's island economy, and Karin is introduced to maggot fish and cormorant fishing, and spends several days aboard a high-tech Japanese fishing fleet. The catch goes straight to Tsukiji in Tokyo - the world's largest seafood market. Occasionally every pilgrim spends the night in a cave or broken-down bus, though invitations are also common - to help an old woman harvest her peaches, join a croquet game, or volunteer at a temple during Obon, the Festival of the Dead. When the festival is finally over the people of Miyazu light ten thousand floating candles to lead the spirits back home.

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