Shikoku 2018

Day 20: Temples 55 – 59

Today was the day where my legs finally agreed with my feet, that this is too much. At temple 58, after walking 200m upwards over a couple of kilometers, and thinking “finally, I made it” at the main gate, I find out that there are another 100m up over 250m – and the worst is, you have to come down again. No wonder I was the only person at the temple, and no wonder when I sat at the main gate, the other walkers took the road.

It’s been a hard day. Long stretches along roads in the blazing sun, just aren’t for me. I was up at 6.30 in plenty of time for a 8.20 train. As I came out of the hotel, tram #5 rolled by, no matter I thought, there will be another one soon – turned out to be 24 minutes later, so I just managed to make the train to Imabari on time.

After a 1 hour ride, I knew that the hotel was across from the station, but the only sign I saw for it was up a very steep and cheap flight of stairs – it did not look very inviting. The second time I went up, I saw somebody washing the tables in the breakfast room. So I banged on the window and she pointed that I should go down and through the next door, which only had the hotel name in Japanese!

I left my bag at the hotel and took my day bag and was on my way – 5 temples. The first was only 1km from the hotel and is the first temple I recal that is spread across a road. Temple 55, Nankobo, is where one can pray for safety on water. During WW2 it was burned down and rebuilt just after the war. There was an American couple, he looked as though he could be Japanese American. She was taking pictures and filming, whilst he looked a bit bored and said a couple of times that it was time to move on. My guess is that they are periodical walkers, like me. The person that signed my book gave me a beautifully written post card as a present.

Temple 56 was 3 km away and the landscape moved from urban to suburban to agricultural in those 3 kms, but not rice fields as in the south. Here they grow vegetables. There were lots of classical Japanese houses in this area, and I’ve added a few pictures in today’s blog. Temple 56, Taisanji, was built to gaurd against the flooding of a nearby river. There is also supposed to be a pine tree planted by Kukai, and every time the tree wilted, a new emerged.

Temple 57, Eifukuji, was a further 3 kms away, continuing through small fields with vegetables belonging to the houses scattered around. This was a compact temple with two buddhist feet rocks from a temple in India, either side of the main hall.


To get to Temple 58 you first walk through a forest with a reservoir for ca. 1km, it was amazing how quiet it was, you could only hear a waterfall ahead, birds singing, and my heavy step.

Once out of the forest it was 2 km upwards. I met a snake, taking in the sun, on the road. It disappeared as soon as it heard me coming. Close to the gate I passed a Japanese lady who made the trip every day, but only to the main gate. She lived in the area.

As I reached the gate a man was sitting in his car. He jumped out and asked me where I was from and then asked if he could have a picture of me. He ran back to his car and took his camera out of the car and ran over to me to show me that it wasn’t digital, but the good old-fashioned type with film. And then the real climb began!

Once up, temple 58, Senyuji, was built in the 7th century, and according to legend a female dragon carved one of the statues. Being so inaccessible it fell into disuse until it was restored by Kukai. I received a souvenir from the monk, in shorts, that signed my book.

Luckily the route back down wasn’t the same as the way up. I met a 66-year-old making the trip for the 4th time, but this time in reverse order. He told me he would lie down and sleep when he got all the way up to 58. He was walking with a backpack all the way and couldn’t understand that mine was so small – until I explained that I would sleep in town. He said he had met 2 danes the day before.

The first kilometer was in a forest (and I met yet another snake, but it saw me, before I saw it, I could just see its tail as it disappeared) the remaining 6 km were along roads on the baking sun.

Temple 59 Kokubunji, was being visited by a small group on a tour, with own photographer. The temple is the provincial temple of Eihme and founded in 741 – in one of the halls there is a statue of Kobo Daishi with which you can shake hands and make a wish. This was the temple I took least pictures in – just the two below.

I walked a couple more kilometers south and caught the train back to Imabari. I checked in, lay on the bed, and fell asleep. I was (am) tired.

Dinner tonight is my first experience of real Japanese. I have my own private room (with 4 very noisy girls in the next room) and sitting on the floor – shoes off of course. I was a bit sceptical about sitting on the floor, until I realised that there is a hole in the floor, so it’s just like sitting on a chair. I also took desert – green tea soufle.

Yet again 19 km on the route, bringing the total to 381 kms and 104 off route. 59 stamps in the book, 39 remaining. The 19km felt very, very long today. I just don’t get how some can do 30km per day.

I met the one Japanese walker and two partial walkers, also Japanese. I also met the Americans.

The muscle in my back is still sore after the fall a couple of days ago. Tomorrow is a big day – 9km uphill to temple 60 at 750 m above sea level, the last 3 km going from 175m to 750m.

1 comment Add New Comment

  1. Neil says:

    A good man always gets to where he’s going……!
    Oldham teeter on the brink….!
    We are enjoying your blog….
    Good luck with the hills…
    M n N

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