Shikoku 2018

Day 19: Temple 54

Today is the day I “won” when I ran to temple 42. It enabled me to get to Matsuyama earlier and after yesterday’s four temples, I had finished the temples in and around Matsuyama. I therefore decided to take the train to Onizhi, four kilometers from temple 54. This in turn will save me for 9 kms walking with the backpack, which will be nice as it has turned quite warm. The picture below is just to show that not everywhere one walks is super interesting.

I slept until 8.00, took the tram to the station, caught the 10.42, that left and arrived on time.

I met a Japanese walker, it was his 10th pilgrimage around Shikoku – his 5th walking, he’d done 4 on a motorcycle and one by car. It won’t be his last he assured me. I would guess he was ca. 40, but with backpack and so long into the walk, I was amazed how quickly he walked. We exhausted his English and I moved on, but we arrived at the temple at the same time as I was thinking about what to do after temple 54 and missed the turn.

Temple 54, Enmeiji, like the recent temples, is fairly compact, but is famous in the whole of Japan for its beautiful Azaleas, and they were in full bloom. The temple was known for scholarly learning and for a bell that would ring without anybody ringing it, when thieves tried to steal it. On the way out a Japanese lady insisted on taking a picture of me in front of the fantastic bushes. She seemed very nervous and I was worried that she would drop the phone – she didn’t, but turned out she’d taken ca. 50 pictures as she held down the button on the phone.

A bus back towards Onhizi was scheduled for 13.13, which left me 30 mins to pick up a sandwich at the Aeon supermarket, conveniently placed next to the bus stop. The bus came on time and I stayed on it to the end station, making sure on Google Maps that we were going in the right direction. The terminus was on the coastal road which was perfect.

I decided to walk along the coast until I couldn’t be bothered more. The road first weaved inland and then along the coast, amongst other things passing an underground oil refinery. I wonder what was underground as there was a lot above ground – and the picture below shows only a very small portion.

I bought a coffee and sat on the beach for 20 mins to give my feet a break. Asanami was 5km away, so I decided to take the train from there. The area is famous for roof tiles and the fantastic sculptures that are made to sit at the end of the roofs in many houses. I walsked past a tile sculpture of Kobo Daishi, but it was 1,5m high – a bit to big to bring home.

In total I walked just above 50% of the stretch between temples 53 and 54. The coast road was busy with lots of traffic zipping past – although it was nice walking along the coast, the constant traffic is a pain, and I’m happy I only walked 15 km along the coast, and skipped a couple of earlier stretches.

The view from where I drank coffee.

A place to pray before venturing through the tunnel.

The train for Matsuyama rolled into Asanami one minute after I had arrived – not bad when there is only one train per hour. The train was full of school kids, some in need of a nap after the days hard work.

A high school girl sat down next to me – normally I am the last person they choose to sit next to, so when somebody does it despite other empty seats you know they want to practice their English. She was no exception. She asked what I was listening to, I always listen to music in a random order. It was U2. She didn’t know them and I told her it was for old people like me. I showed her a picture and she recognised them. She then reeled off a list of Japanese artists, who I had no idea about. Finally I showed her my playlist that has some music from the Gibli films – she was very impressed. She said she would like to go to park Gibli in Tokyo, some day. I told her that my daughter will visit the park in May and she said that my daughter was lucky, as it was difficult to get tickets.

We said goodbye when the train pulled in and I took tram 5 all the way to Dodo Onsen which is said to be Japan’s oldest with a 3.000 year history. It is still used and one could see both men and women arriving in their kimonos. Next to the tram station there is a fully working coal powered tram on display. They have several examples that actually run throughout the day and are a big tourist attraction – I imagine they have an electric motor now.

Back at the hotel I washed some clothes, so it didn’t get out before 20.30 to look for something to eat. I imagined something simple but stumbled upon a sushi restaurant. As people were on their way out, and the door opened, I could see that there were still people inside. I was greeted with the usual shouting and asked if I would drink hot or cold saki. I asked if they had a beer, but the response was that with sushi you drink saki. One of the sushi cooks came with a picture of different sushi, and I was told to pick. Sometimes he said no, we don’t have it.

He’d already poured a bit of soya in a dish and came with the two first sushi and placed them on the counter in front of me. I started to unpack the chopsticks and he said, no, no. He came around the counter and showed me, that I should wet my fingers on a wet cloth placed next to the sushi and take the sushi up in my fingers, half turn it, dip the end of the fish in the soya – not all the fish and not the rice – and eat. When he came with eel, he told me no soya! The sushi was excellent, not least the bonito and the shrimp – I have never tasted shrimp taste so much of shrimp before.

Another 19 km on the route today, so in total 362 km on route and 110 km off route. 54 stamps collected, 34 missing. A great end to the day with the best sushi I remember eating. Also, I can’t get the 1,5 m high sculpture of Kobi Daishi out of my mind. What a great souvenir it would be to take home.

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