Shikoku 2018

Day 3: Temples 11 – 12

If this was a bike race, this would be the kings stage – three tops at 626m, 745m and 706m and three tough downward ascents. All in all 24km, where pretty much 12km are uphill and 12km downhill.


I was up at 6.30, breakfasted (they had cornflakes today!) and on the 8.12 train for Kamojima, where I’d finished yesterday. The train was full of school kids in their immaculate uniforms. It took forever, there is only one track, except at the stations, so each stop lasted ca. 5 minutes, waiting for the train in the opposite direction.

From the station I had a flat 3,5km walk to temple 11, Fujiidera, another temple founded by Kukai. There were several cyclists outside the temple, probably taking the main road over the 3 tops. This temple is possibly the temple least studied, as most people are about to take the walk up to temple 12. And to be truthfull, there isn’t much to say about it. I got my stamp, changed my shoes, put on my more sturdy walking shoes, and was on my way by 10 am.

This is the start of the climb to temple 12.

I was on my own, most people leave no later than 8am, in anticipation of a 4 to 6 hour walk, as the guidebook states. The first two kilometers go up, with a lot of steps – not something I had trained in Denmark. I met my first snake (not a big one), and after a couple of kilometers a group of three Japanese gentlemen, with whom I echanged a few words, took their picture, and moved on. Next 3 more Japanese, quickly followed by the Dutch couple I’d met yesterday.

At the bottom of the first descent, there was a temple with cherry trees, azalea and other bushes and tress in full blossom – it was spectacular. l chatted with a couple from Miami. It was steep up and steep down, on paths that at times hardly were paths.

On the way up the second climb, I met a Basque from Bilbao – he was walking for 4 days, and this climb was his last stage. At the top of the second mountain there is a big statue of Kobe Daishi – just to remind you that you are only halfway.

On the way down I met  a Japanese man walking at the same pace as I was – we only stayed together briefly, as he prayed at every figure along the route – every 2-300m. At the bottom of the second mountain I again met the Swiss couple, Canadian lady and Japanese gentleman I had met yesterday. They had started from temple 11 at 7.30. The descent of the second mountain was very trecherous and I was happy I managed to get through it ok.

Up the third mountain, the going gets tough. There isn’t a real path to follow, but luckily lots of signs and it is again very steep. I met a Japanese couple on the way up – we spoke for a few minutes and took pictures of each other.

I finally reached the temple after 3 hours and 3 minutes. Temple 12, Shosanji, is named after the mountain, a mountain Kukai saved from a large serpant that had set fire to the whole mountain. He saved it by chanting suntras.

It is a very well kept temple, with a beautiful rose tree.

I left the temple with 7,5km downhill to the nearest bus stop, the first 3,5km along a mountain path. Downhill in this type of terrain is really hard on your toes, as they are pushed up against the front of your shoes, and your knees due to the steepness of the descent. The downhill stretches between temples 11 and 12 and from 12 down to the main road, are called henro-korogashi, which literally means “where a pilgrim falls down”.

When I reached the main road, there was still 4km to the bus stop. I changed back to my running shoes, and kept up a good pace, admiring all the beautiful cherry trees in full blossom. As I reached a bridge, I was thinking about coffee and cake. A car drove onto the bridge that was only just wide enough for a car, so I stopped and waited. The car stopped next to me, the driver rolled down the window and handed me a bag and drove off. In the bag there were assorted chocolate biscuits and a coffee drink. Unfotunately, the chocolate had melted, it had been 20C and sunny all day. I scraped the chocolate and biscuit from the wrappings – it was just what I needed.

I had a 20 min wait for the bus, which took an hour to get back to Tokushima. The bus drivers are in full uniform with hat and gloves. When you get on the bus you take a ticket that has a zone on it (mine was zone 14) and you can always see how much you must pay on the electronic board at the front of the bus, when you get off.

Legs and toes are a bit tired, but no blisters! So hopefully back on the road tomorrow. With 2 temples today, I have visted 12 temples and have 76 to go. I walked 24kms today, the longest so far, so in total I’ve walked is 57km.

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