Shikoku 2018

Day 7: Temple 23

After temple 23, the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage changes from the awakening stage to the ascetic training stage as we move from Tokushima province to Kochi province. One could say exactly the same happens for me. Today I moved away from my base in Tokushima, and for the first time need to carry all my belongings with me.

I have no idea how heavy my backpack is, just that it is too heavy. But I am sure that no matter how little I’d packed, it would still be too heavy. I have not trained with a backpack in Denmark, as I didn’t want the added concern of whether I could cope or not. Now I am here, I have no choice.

I slept until 7am, breakfasted (above is the view from the hotel’s restaurant, with the train station on the right and bus station ahead) and took my other bag with the stuff I won’t be taking with me, to the reception. They will keep it until I return. I took the 10.10 train towards Mugi, getting off at Kiki after an hour and 20 mins. Kiki is about 10 kilometers past temple 22, a very small fishing village with a few houses and an unmaned train station. My idea was a short 13 km trip with my backpack, to break it and me in! From the map I reckoned it would be flat and real roads – it wasn’t.

This was my first view of the Pacific ocean whilst walking, and no sooner had I left the village before the road climbed, and continued, moderately for next 3 kilometers. The road was narrow, but not a single car passed me. But I was almost knocked down by a racing cyclist who coming round a swing in the road, didn’t see me until the last minute, and almost fell off his bike as he swerved to avoid me.

At the top, I followed a mountain path to get back down to the coast, only for the road to go upwards again before descending to Hiwasa and Temple 23. As it was still early afternoon, so I decided to visit Hiwasa’s biggest attraction, a Sea Turtle museum. The beach at Hiwasa is famous for sea turtles laying their eggs during the summer. The museum however, wasn’t very impressive.

Despite being a relatively large town in Tokushima province (the second largest?), the streets were deserted. I made my way to Temple 23, Yakuoji, which Kukai visited in 815.

The temple is most noticable for the fantastic view towards the Pacific and over Hiwasa, and for a newer red Pagoda that has been built above the temple, and dominates the town. Again lots of steps, and now with a backpack.

It was getting on for 3pm, and there was an information center and restaurant next to the temple, where I had a combined lunch/dinner. Feeling good after having something to eat, I walked towards the station, and met one of the Danish girls and Romain, the French guy, both of whom I had met at temple 21. We chatted and exchanged experiences, and our expectations for the next couple of days.

For the first time during my trip, it started to rain. It is expected to be very heavy and supposed to continue until noon tomorrow :-(.

By 5pm it was throwing it down. Lukily I arived at at a small guest house, futon, with a shared bath and toilet – oh well – just before the heaviest rain started. I had planned to visit a nearby Japanese bath (onsen), but that will have to wait until tomorrow, I don’t want to get soaked.

23 temples visited and 130 km on the route (plus 45 km more not on the route).

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