Shikoku 2018

Day 12: Temples 35 – 36

Another day on asphalt on the outscirts of Kochi in beautiful weather – yet another day without a cloud in the sky. I was up at 6.30 and waiting for the first bus to Tosa, a few kilometers past where I finished yesterday. The bus arrived on time, just didn’t go to Tosa – as both the map at the bus stop and the guy behind the desk at the hotel had confirmed it would. As it happened, the bus terminated more or less the same number of kilometers from temple 35, so it didn’t really matter.


After a one kilometer climb, of course there are steps up to the main gate ….. and even more after.


Temple 35, lies 135m up, and the whole climb starts ca. 1km from the temple, so its a pretty steep climb. But once up there, the view is fantastic over Tosa and towards the sea. The temple is called Kiyotakiji, which means pure waterfall, which comes from the legend that Kukai, after praying for a good harvest, struck his staff on the ground and out came pure water, which turned into a waterfall. I must have missed the waterfall, but there was a fire engine! As with most of the recent temples, there have been very few visitors, which is fairly relaxing.


At the bottom of the hill, an encouragement for pilgrims (you pass it on the way up as well, if you come the right way). Not sure what it is or what is written.


Temple 36 is 14,5 km away, mostly flat, partly through Tosa and then the countryside (and more rice fields), with a small climb up to a 850m long tunnel. I have never walked through such a long road tunnel before, the noise is overwhelming! You can hardly hear music from an iphone with volume at full. Real pilgrims take a hill on top of the tunnel, I took the short cut.


The tunnel ends in a town called USA!


To get to temple 37, you need to cross a 600m long bridge onto a peninsula.


Shoryuji, as temple 36 is called, is named after the temple in China where Kukai studied. Again lots of steps to up to the temple after passing through the main gate. Again, like many of the temples in Kochi, the temple is well kept and beautiful, not least with the flowers blooming.


To get to temple 37 you can either walk back over the bridge and follow the main road, or stay on the peninsula route, and follow the coast. Most take the shorter main road route, because the scenic route is longer and hilly. There are supposed to be breathtaking views along the scenic route. Early in my planning, I had considered walking the scenic route, but am happy that I changed my plans. After three days on asphalt my feet are tired.

It was another hard day in the sun, and just like yesterday, I didn’t meet any foreigners on the road. I met 6 Japanese pilgrims, two of which I had also met yesterday. I played leapfrog with one Japanese pilgrim. He passed me whilst I was taking a break, I passed him whilst he was taking a pause for nature, he passed me when I was having a coffee and I again passed him whilst we walked over the bridge. I also met a Japanese lady I had helped find the path down from temple 32. She told me she drove between temples, but walked the last kilometers – at least that is what I understood she told me.

With the stamp in book, it was 2pm and the next bus was at 4.47pm, so I had to decide what to do – wait for the bus, or walk back over the bridge and hope that there are other buses out of USA.  I decided to take a chance on the latter, and set off on the 4km walk back to USA. I finally made it to the bus stop at 2.57pm, and the bus was due a 2.58pm, and was the only bus that day that drove straight to Kochi – in fact stops 100m from my hotel entrance (all the others you need to change buses). My bus luck is back.


I passed this sign in Kochi – it was closed – for anybody reading that doesn’t know me, my surname is Bloom.

Most of the Japanese pilgrims walk in gear of a brand called Mont Bell, and as they have a branch in Kochi I decided to make a visit to see if they have socks in my size (xl in Japan). It’s a really nice shop with lots of stuff, but no merino wool socks in xl :-(. I popped into a consumer electronics shop, Ks, and at a distance saw the French guy, Romain, who I’d met at temple 20, 23 in Hiwasa and again at 27. I looked away at something, and when I looked back he’d gone. About 30 mins later, whilst I was looking at the menu at a restaurant, he tapped me on the shoulder. He was with a German walking companion, they’d done 28 to 30 today, and Romain certainly looked tired.

I had sashimi for dinner with a local speciality, slightly grilled bonito with garlic (top left).


Today I found out that the ultimate pick me up song is Coldplay’s Viva La Vida – as soon as I heard it I felt on top of the world again, and the tired feet didn’t matter anymore.

24 more kilometers today puts me up to 254 kms on route and 65 off route, and with 36 temples visited, only 52 remain.

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