Shikoku 2018

Day 25: Temples 74 – 78

It was supposed to be stormy weather today. At 7am it was cloudy, but OK. Taking no chances it was long trousers, waterproof walking shoes and a rain jacket instead of fleece. It was warm and very humid.

After the landlady found her camera so she could put me on her blog, I set off for the station. I decided it didn’t matter how long I waited for the train, as I hadn’t written yesterday’s blog yet. I got there at 8.05 and the train for Takamatsu departed at 8.06. I had decided to take the temples in reverse order, 77, 76, 75 and 74, before taking the train back to 77, and walking to 78 and 79. The reason I took them backwards was due to the waiting time to change trains to get to 74 – but is far too complicated to explain.

I got off at Todatsu, took a look at the old steam locamotive that was on show, and walked the 1km to temple 77. I ate the orange I had received the day before, but again it was sour, dry and with lots of pips. Temple 77, Doryuji, was created because Wake no Michitaka accidentally shot a nurse and carved a statue in his grief and created a temple.

Just as I came through one gate, my Japanese walking companion from the trip to 66 came through another gate. We updated each other on the past day and she told me she would reach temple 80 today and then stop for this year and travel home. I told her about the rice balls and she told me that she had also received them from the same lady an hour or so before me. I gave her mine, as I knew I wouldn’t eat them – the smell of the green tea leaves gave me nausea. She accepted them.

We said goodbye and she moved on towards temple 78 and I to 76. It was a 4,1km in a straight line to temple 76, mainly though the countryside, and I passed a large baseball stadium, that seems to be in the middle of nowhere.

Konzoji, as temple 76 is called, is modelled after Shoryuji in China. The temple is spread out over a large area, and one can purchase gold leaf to put on the figure of a man – seen below. A lot had done so.

Whilst lighting a candle the sound of a Chinease firecracker filled the air. I got a shock. As you can see on the picture below, when a wooden ball goes up over the wheel, it falls free fall until it hits the next ball, which makes it sound like a fire cracker.

Next stop was temple 75, Zentsuji, Kukai’s birthplace. Together with Mt. Koya and the Toji temple in Kyoto, Zentsuji is one of the three most important sites related to Kukai – and therefore gets a lot of visitors. It was well visited today, but not busy in any way. It is a large complex with many buildings, very different from each other – it felt a bit messy.

It started to rain, but luckily not to heavily. Many pilgrims sleep at temple 75, and there is an underground passage, in total darkness, where you are supposed to get the feeling of being with Kobo Daishi.

Koyamaji, temple 74, is 1,8 km away on the outskirts  of the city. Legend has it that when Kukai was wondering where to build a temple between what is now temple 72 and Zentsuji (temple 75), a man appeared from a cave at the foot of Mt.Koyama and told Kukai that if he built it there, he would protect it forever. The temple complex was fairly compact. The French lady I had greeted at temple 65 was also at this temple. She has learnt the suntras, as she recites them at each hall I have seen her.

From temple 74 there was a 3km trudge back to the station. Yesterday I ended up running to catch the train, again today I arrived with one minute to spare, having to run to make it.

I took the train just past temple 77 and took a coffee at the station to get time to take off my shoes and please my feet. It had started to rain now, more than the few drops that had fallen during the morning. But it was a light rain, far from a storm.

The walk was along a main road and boring. I followed the signs for temple 78, but couldn’t find it. I wasn’t the only one having problems finding it, as cars were driving around and asking for directions. Matters were made worse by the fact that there are many temples and shrines in the area, and I managed to visit two “wrong” temples, one very small but very beautiful.

I finally found temple 77 with help of the local butcher.  In strong contrast to temple 75, 78 is large and the architecture consistent throughout, that in my mind makes it far more peaceful and relaxing. One of the halls had a nice wooden roog with flowers carved an painted into each square.

A special feature is a room full of the same silver painted plastic figure. The room is dark when you first come down the stairs, but as your eyes get used to the dark, you see all these figures. It is pretty spooky.

The 45 minutes spent trying to find the temple meant that I could not make it to temple 79, as I had hoped. I suppose it is not surprising with so many kilometers over the past couple of days, that my legs feel a bit heavy. They certainly did today, and the 16km walked, felt as though I had walked the double.

I went to the nearest station, met a Frenchman on his way to 78, waited ten minutes and was on the train to Kan-onji – this time without too many waits for the trains going in the opposite direction. Tomorrow I will pick up from the same station.

Back at the guesthouse, now with 2 other Japanese gentlemen walking the henro, I finished yesterdays blog before taking a bath. For dinner I went to a Japanese restaurant recommended by the landlady. They did’t have an English menu or pictures, so we agreed on a set menu. It tasted excellent, and best meal since sushi in Matsuyama – two more dishes were added after I had taken the picture.

16km on route brings the total up go 494km, 8 off route resulting in 126km and with 5 more temples visited, I have visited 78 temples, and 10 remain to be visited. There is a lot of walking along main roads now, which isn’t super interesting or inspiring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *