Shikoku 2018

Day 29: Temple 88

The plan for today was simple, reach temple 88. As is becoming the norm, I woke at 6.00, and was sitting on the 7.25 to Nagao, where I had visited temple 87. The weather was sunny with no indication that it would turn to rain later today, as the weather report suggested.

I passed quckly throuh Nagao town center into the countryside with scattered houses, primarily along the road. After a few kilometers with a slow climb, there is a Shikoku 88 museum with lots of memorabilia. It is run by volunteers who welcome all travellers with open arms, enthusiasm, green tea and biscuits. Giuseppe was already sitting there when I arrived. I was presented a certificate for completion of the pilgrimage. I’m not sure whether I should’ve recieved  certificate as I han’t walked the whole way.

Giuseppe and I walked around the museum before saying our goodbyes to the volunteers. We walked together for 5 kilometers until at around 500 meters altitude, where the road turns to a path. Giuseppe wanted a rest, he must take it easy after his stroke, and I decided to move on. The next kilometer assends 300m followed by 1,2 kilometers downhill – not least the upward part  is renowned to be difficult, and I felt it was best that we each did this part at our own pace.

I don’t mind going up, but it must be said that difficult is an understatement – there were parts where there wasn’t a path, just rocks at ca 60 degree angle that you had to climb. This was beyond doubt the most difficult and dangerous one kilometer there has been. Going down was not much easier.

I arrived at the temple at 13.05, hoping that Giuseppe was doing OK – he had a backpack, whilst I was only walking with a day pack. It started to rain immediately I stepped into the temple. Temple 88 was not the grand finale, but a nice temple no less. There was a big glass box full of walking sticks, you can pay 1000 yen to leave your stick here after completing all 88 temples, as many feel that the sticks role is complete. I got my stamp, the last in the book and a hand written certificate to document when I had visited the last of the 88 temples, which cost 2000 yen.

Temple 88, Okuboji, grew out of a hut and became a temple when Kukai returned from China and carved a statue of Yakushi Nyorai.

Sacha came down from the mountain, he had met Giuseppe on the way, who was doing it at his pace. My bus was due to leave at at 13.30, but I wanted to see Giuseppe arrive. He duly arrived at 13.31. He wanted a beer now that he had arrived at the last temple and immediately went off to find a beer. I don’t know if it is because it is the last temple or for another reason, the temple is 400m up a mountain, but there were shops and a couple of restaurants outside the main gate. Giuseppe returned with three beers and three glasses and we sat under a tree and celebrated that we survived getting to temple 88.

Sacha had another 15km to walk whilst Giuseppe was staying close by. As the next bus was a couple of hours away, I offered to buy a celebratory lunch at the local restaurant that was packed with visitors. We had noodles with beef, sake and beer. So much for my hospitality, after I’d paid for the lunch, I had to borrow 1000 yen from Giuseppe, as I had no money left for the bus and train.

I just managed to exchange a few words with the French girl who was just leaving the temple as the bus arrived. She had done the last part in rain, which was certainly not fun.

There was a ten minute wait for the train to take me back to Takamatsu after the bus. As I left the station in Takamatsu, it was pouring down, but of course the town council had put on a band for me – a New Orleans jazz band, playing in the rain! A few people were braving the elements. It was a pity as they were pretty good.

I bought a cake and cup of coffee and enjoyed them in my room. On the way up an American in the lift asked what I had been up to. I told him I’d just visited my 88th temple in four weeks. He congratulated me and said it was fantastic, and was concerned about the health of my feet.

I didn’t go out again, and they say it will rain the next couple of days.

With 15 hard earned kilometers today. My total is 583 km on route and 148 km off route. All 88 stamps are collected. To complete Shikoku 88 you must return to temple 1, thus completing the 1142 km route from temple 1 to temple 1.

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