Shikoku 2018

Day 11: Temples 31 – 34

I knew there would be days like this, days where you really wonder why you are doing this. Days where your feet or legs are just saying stop. It’s funny how you begin to address parts of your body as though they aren’t part of you, but kind of aside from the rest of you – a kind of us and them – we’re doing OK, but the feet can’t keep up.

I woke at 6.30, it seemed to be the time when the trams started running past the hotel. They are really noisy. Breakfast was only Japanese or white bread, but whilst waiting for the elevator I’d read that you could use your breakfast voucher in the adjacent Lawson conveniance store instead – not that that’s much better.

I was on the road by 8.30, and todays first temple was ca. 4kms from the hotel. On the map it looks like a pleasant walk along the river, but instead it’s a boring walk along tsunami protection walls. The signs to follow the route are nowhere near as good in Kochi as they have been elsewhere, and instead of temple 32, I ended up in a park. The park was beautiful as it was in full bloom, but was not what I was looking for. I asked a couple of Japanese gentlemen, and one of them insisted of walking me to the main gate of the temple, ca. 500m away.

Temple 31, Chikurinji, is yet another beautiful temple in Kochi. It is considered Japan’s equivalent of China’s Mt. Godai, and includes a 5 storey pagoda, built in 1980. There were not many people, until a bus load of pilgrims came with two camera men, who presumably document their trip,! I was also filmed at the hand washing area, so it was good I had been told how to do it properly – yesterday.

The 6.1 km walk to temple 31 continued along the river, a main road and then through a very nice residential  area, before coming to what every temple with respect for itself has, a path up a hill ending in a flight of stairs. I fell on the way up. I almost never have anything in my hands when it goes uphill, so I managed to cushion the fall using my hands. As I was due to come down the same way, I changed from my running shoes to my walking shoes, that have a better grip. Temple 32, Zenjibuji, has, due to its close proximity to the sea, become known as the place to pray for the safety of fishermen and sailors. Being high up there is a fantastic view over the coast, and many beautiful bushes in bloom.

It was getting hot, not the best weather for walking, and the 7.7 km to the next temple didn’t offer much to help pass the time. The route takes you along the coast, but 3 or 4 streets inland. To save a 4km detour you need to time your arrival before ten past the hour so you can take a ferry across the inlet. I arrived with 10 mintes to spare. I was the 3rd walking “pilgrim”. Two I had overtaken, arrived just in time. The ferry takes 5 minutes and we were 8 people on board in total.

I was feeling fine before the ferry, but getting off it felt that I had an extra 2kg around each foot. Temple 33, Sekkeiji, is one of only three Zen temples out of the 88, not that I noticed any difference. The monks were out reciting sutras with a bus group and you could buy fruit on the grounds, which I have not seen before.

The four Japanese pilgrims on the ferry, and two Japanese ladies were the only walkers I saw today, no foreigners at all. It was another 6.4 kms to temple 34, Tanemaji, and the route passed through even more rice fields and greenhouses and given the heat and tired feet, I started to wonder whether this was a good idea at all. Whilst considering this, I came to the following sign.

Whilst considering whether I take the shorter route, which probably means traversing a hill, the longer route, which means more walking past rice fields and greenhouses, (see below) a bus pulled up that can take me to within 300m of the temple. I was tempted, my feet were more than ready. But I held firm and took the shoeter route, which passed through some nice villages and a more varied landscape.

When I finally arrived at temple 34, I was tired. I looked around, yet again a beautifully kept temple. After I got my stamp, I sat and watched a group that had just arrived. Some of the group were very active whilst saying their sutras at both halls, others drifted way. Amongst the 40 or so that were on a group travel, there were two foreigners, fully kitted out, far more than the Japanese, and actively reciting their sutras.

Whilst watching them, a Japanese lady approached me and asked where I came from. She asked if I had walked – using signs, and I said that I had, to which she bowed and started to rummage in her bag. Suddenly she pulled something up, kissed it and gave it to me. I thanked her and before I could see what she had given me she had run off – it was 1000 yen (ca 8 €). I wanted to hand it back, I don’t need the money, but that is not done, and she’d already left.

In line with the other Kochi temples, Tanemaji is very well kept – helped by lots of bushes in bloom. At this temple, people come to pray for safe child birth and is where Kukai planted five types of seeds, includind rice, he had brought back from China – and is now the reason I walk past so many rice fields.

I left the temple to find a bus back to the hotel. When I found the stop, the bus had left 7 mins earlier, and the next was in 90 mins. I walked a bit further and passed a junior high school – it was massive, with kids out playing tennis, football and baseball. Some were running around the school and shouted “hi” when they saw me. Further on I found a supermarket that had streetfood – fried noodles, not great, but only cost 1,5 $

The bus finally arrived and an hour later I was back at the hotel. I took a bath, checked my feet and had noodle soup with pork for dinner.

Another 27 kms today brings the total to 230 km on route and 60 km off route. 34 temples visited, 54 remaining. Two more temples planned for tomorrow.

4 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Lotte says:

    Hi Steven, It’s great to follow your trip. Best of hopes for your tired feet! Your greeting for VELUX colleageus has been sent out on Yammer all, and I do hereby return a greeting to you from a VELUX Japan colleague:

    Sayomi Kashin :
    Shikoku is my home island.
    I’m so happy to read the your visit.
    Have a nice trip!

    1. Hi Sayomi
      It is a wonderful island and a very helpful and kind people. I will pass by the office in Tokyo on the 23/5 as my daughter will be staying with Efu. Perhaps I see you then.
      Best wishes

  2. Sayomi says:

    Hello Steven,
    I’m so glad to watch your pictures and read your texts.
    Now is the most beautiful season.
    Please enjoy and take care of yourself.
    I’m expecting you next month:)

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