Shikoku 2018

Day 17: Temples 52 – 53

As the weather forecast predicted, it rained all day. I was up at 6.45 and soon waiting for a tram. On the tram map it looks like they travel in a circle, but in reality, all but one line stops at the station and turn around. So after waiting 10 minutes I only ended up going 3 stops to the station – it would have been quicker to walk (picture below, next to the start of one of the covered shopping streets). As I was at the station I took a train 4 stops to pick up where I left off yesterday. At the station a girl was singing (she may call it that) with her headphones on. Suddenly, I realised that my headphones were in my trousers that I had washed yesterday. I had forgotten to check the extra pockets that walking trousers have. I wondered whether they had survived the washing machine.

I had walked 4 kilometers towards temple 52 yesterday, and still needed another 7 kms. As such I could have waited to do this another day, but felt that I should at least walk once in the rain – in an area where it normally rains every second day, I haven’t had rain whilst walking. Umbrella up, rain jacket on, and out in the rain. I learnt four things about walking in the rain:

1. I should take smaller steps, as my long steps meant my foot and the bottom of my trousers went outside the umbrella, and the rain running off the umbrella made my shoes and trouser legs wet.

2. I should have practiced walking with an umbrella, my arms ached after 3 hours.

3. My shoes are pretty much waterproof – my socks were a bit damp but most importantly my feet were dry when I got back.

4. I was so happy that there was a pavement of kinds to walk on, if I had to walk on the edge of the road, I would have been soaked by passing lorries and cars.

I stopped at a bakers (thank goodness no mass fabricated sandwiches) and a convenience store for coffee. Of course, whist getting the coffee it stopped raining for five minutes. I walked through the outskirts Matsuyama with shops, game halls, houses and small industry, including boat makers when I passed an inlet.

Temple 52 is a very  old temple, the main hall is large, and was built in 1305. A temple has been here since 586, when Mano Kogoro was saved in a storm and built the temple in a single night – according to legend. It is situated in a big park and you walk ca. 500m to get to the temples after you have passed the main gate.

I met the Italian I had met the day before, he was still being guided round by a Japanese lady. We talked under the roof of the main hall, waiting for the rain to die down, but it got worse. She was very surprised when I showed her a picture of the cherry blossoms at Bispebjerg in Denmark.

They offered me a lift to the next temple, I declined politely and we said our goodbyes – again, this time with pictures.

It was only 3 km to temple 53, Enmyoji, along a main road. I met the Japanese lady for the 5th time after we had first met at temple 32. I thought she was stopping after 38, but evidently not. She was walking from the station to 51. Temple 53 was next to the main road and very compact. There is a place for “hidden” Christians to worship, but I couldn’t find it. It was really pouring down, so my motivation to find it wasn’t that high either.

If you zoom in on the second picture, you can see how much it was raining.

The temple was close to the station, and I waited 30 mins for the train to take me back to Matsuyama and the very slow tram back to my hotel. I could see that here in Japan they also have a problem with people not picking up their bikes at the station.

I met 3 pilgrims today, including the Italian guy and the Japanese lady I had met 5 times previously, and one probable walker (Japanese man). I met max 10 people in the two temples, together.

I got back to the hotel around 13.30 and found the headphones in my trouser pocket that had been washed and dried yesterday. They work fine! I am listening to water music as I sit at Starbucks and write this, watching the Japanese go by, in packed trams, heading for the shopping street or home from work or school. I’ve been here ca. 1 hour, and not seen a single foreigner.

On another subject, Japan is a noisy country. When a car drives into a petrol station the pump welcomes you and tells you what to do. In restaurants, the waiters shout when people come and go, the trains and buses thank you for travelling with them, tell you which end of the train  or bus to get off and the name of the stop, often both in Japanese and English (which often doesn’t give a lot of clarity as they say the stop name the same way they say it in Japanese (naturally), but is very different than how we would say it in English). I could go on! But in the past few days it just got worse.

There will soon be elections, and to make sure the different candidates and parties voices are heard, they drive around in cars with speakers attached to the car roof, getting their message across. Whether it works, I have no idea, but it is noisy, and just now they are having some kind of debate at the end of the covered street, across from where I am sitting. It is very noisy.

Perhaps Denmark could learn from the sensible way the Japanese promote themselves on common billboards, instead of the billboard chaos we have. But please, not the cars driving around.

And for dinner, no I am not tired of Japanese food, there is an Italian restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel and I couldn’t be bothered to go out in the rain. The pizza wasn’t that good, perhaps they should send him to Napoli to train a bit.

With the 10km in the rain I have reached 313 km on route and 106 off the route. Two more temples brings the number of temples visited up to 49 with 39 remaining. Tomorrow I go backwards to 44 and 45, and a 06.30 bus. I really do hope the rain stops, as I will be back in the mountains.

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