Shikoku 2018

Day 16: Temples 43, 48 – 51

Beyond the fact that I have now passed the halfway mark in the number of temples visited, nothing much happened today – oh yes, I believe I finally saw a VELUX skylight (just in case anybody reading this isn’t aware, I work for VELUX in Denmark).

I woke at 6.30 am and as my train to temple 43 was two and a quarter hours later and the weather was again beautiful, I decided to walk up to the castle that overlooks the town. Originally built in 1666 and one of only 12 existing original castles in Japan – one of the other 11 is in the city where I am currently writing this, Matsuyama. From the castle, the views over Uwajima are fantastic. It was only just past 7am and there was a stream of Japanese who walked up the hill, got to the top, and turned around and went back down, without even looking at the castle – probably their daily motion.

I went back to the hotel without finding anywhere to buy breakfast, everywhere was closed, checked out and as I was leaving bumped into a German couple packing their car. I had seen them at Cape Ashizuri. They weren’t in Shikoku to see temples but lighthouses.

The train left on time, as always. But this time with one driver and five watching his every move, which he also had to shout out – brake check, doors open check etc.


It was a 3 km walk to temple 43 from Unomachi station. I still hadn’t eaten breakfast as I have vowed to stop buying pre-packed sandwiches from seven-eleven and the like. It looked like my vow was going to be very short-lived, but luckily just before the climb to the temple there was a Fuji supermarket with own baker and a toasted egg sandwich. My vow lives another day.

On the way up to the temple I met an American from San Francisco. He had walked every kilometer so far, and it had taken 4 weeks. He was stopping after visiting temple 43 as he had 2 weeks holiday left and wanted to see Kyoto and Tokyo as well.

Temple 43, Meisekiji, “Daybreak and Stone” derives from the legend of a beautiful goddess who until daybreak carried large rocks while praying; however as soon as she saw the sun coming up, she disappeared.

I walked back down to the station, my backpack feeling heavier than yesterday. Checking google I could see that a train to Matsuyama was due to leave at 11.02 and I due to arrive at the station at 11.05. I increased speed and managed to get there at 11.01. A lady was blocking the only ticketing machine, but luckily the man at the gate, seeing I wanted to catch the train, issued a ticket for me.

I have previously written that I wasn’t going to walk long stretches, especially along main roads, and have therefore taken trains and busses on these stretches. However, the 70 km between temple 43 and 44 is a stretch that I would very much have liked to take. But not knowing how far I could go with a backpack and not being able to pre-book accommodation, made it too much to undertake.

Instead I took the train and arrived in Matsuyama at 12.30. I checked in, but couldn’t get my room for another hour. So I changed shoes, took my stamp book and went in search of temple 48 (44 – 47 are too far away for an afternoon). After walking through two covered shopping streets, ca. 2km long, I found the local train station (not the same as the Japan Rail station) and took a local train for 6 stops, to within 3km of temple 48. I must say there is no shortage of local transport offerings, buses, trams and local rail.

At temple 48 I met an Italian who was walking and bussing, just like I am. He spent 2 months in Denmark last summer walking around. I also met a Japanese gentleman who was also walking all the way, but slowly. He spoke very good English. He told me that he had done it 15 years ago as well, but said its all changed, without going into detail.

Temple 48, Sairinji, has a statue in the main hall, which is never shown to the general public. It is set up facing backwards, and is the temple believed to assist in harmony at home.

The next temple was only 3,3 km away, on the outskirts of the city where it is still semi-rural. Temple 49, Jodoji, was simple and compact. It was destroyed and rebuilt in the 14th century.

Temple 50 was 1,8 km further north and it is reached by predominantly walking past small villas. Some of the sights on the way.

Temple 50, Hantaji, is a temple where Kukai trained. The temple has a protective deity which is said to help with passing exams, having a prosperous business, warding off misfortune and assuring good relationship between husband and wife. The temple didn’t have bells to ring at the halls, so for the first time for ages I gave the big bell at the bell tower a ring.


Another 2,8 km to temple 51, and it was just past 4 ‘o’ clock, so I started towards todays last temple. The houses I passed were bigger, often with special designs and surrounded by walls. I found a French baker – good for a very late lunch – and this beautiful bush.

Temple 51, Ishiteji, derives from the legend where a boy is born here with a rock in his hand with the name Emon Saburo on it, who was a person Kukai forgave for being so mean to other people.

It is different from the other temples I have seen. All the normal halls and towers are there and even a pagoda, but there are lots of other small buildings and stalls everywhere. Also the entrance is different, with a covered walkway in front of the so-called henro bridge with a statue of Kukai in front.

The temple was a few kilometers from the hotel, so I walked back had a coffee at Starbucks before getting my room at the hotel. I left my guide book and map at check-in – when I went to pay at the machine – no handing credit cards to the receptionist. I panicked when I realised, but luckily they had kept it at reception.

For dinner I had fish and rice, not too good, and spent the evening washing clothes.

With five temples today I have 47 stamps in my book and 41 remaining. I did 18 km on the route, so all in all, 303 km, and 7 more off route, so 105 km.

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