Shikoku 2018

Day 9: Temples 24 – 26

Below is my view of the world just now, as I sit looking out over the Pacific, watching a couple of fishing boats slowly sail across the relative calm ocean. I’m sitting outside the Muruto whale museum, which I’d hoped to see if I had time, I had the time, but it is closed. So instead I’m enjoying the sun and the beautiful view after another hard day.

After the previous nights storm, I was hoping for a good nights sleep. There was only one other couple at the guest house, a Japanese couple, and he was already snoring whilst I was writting yesterday’s blog. I retired for the night around 10pm, and fell asleep almost immediately. At 1.30am I was woken by voices, seemingly somebody speaking on a phone – I could only hear one voice. I was thinking that it was a bit odd that somebody from Japan is speaking to somebody on the phone at that hour, but tried to fall asleep. I had just managed to doze off, when I heard sirens, that stopped just outside the guest house. This morning the owner told me that one of the other guests had been taken ill, problems with his heart, and taken to the hospital in Mugi where he will stay for some days.

I fell asleep again, and was up at 6.30, on the road by 7.30 and on a train at 8.25. Today I will be jumping over a big chunck of the trip from temple 23 to temple 24. Yesterday I walked 26 km of the route, and today I walked 4 km towards temple 24. The remaining 50km have been done by two trains, the second beautifully decorated, and, after a 30 minute wait, by bus.


We were 5 heading for Muruto that got off the train, and four got on the bus. On the 45min ride over ca. 30kms, I saw 12 pilgrims walking, ca. half of them Japanese. I got off before the temple, saw the big statue of Kobe Daishi and the caves where he allegedly decided to call himself Kukai, because his view was only of the sky and the sea, the literal meaning of Kukai.

Today I was again carrying the full back pack, and for the first time up a hill (160m), on a path, and not the road. It was hard work, and I fully understand why getting to temple 12 can take twice as long when carrying a backpack. Temple 24, Hotsumisakiji, sits high at the tip of Cape Maruto. Kukai came here at 19 as part of his ascetic training – reciting sutras – and again at 33 to found the temple.

On the way down from the temple, an older Japanese lady gave high five. The next temple was 7 km away and for the first time you get the impression of how much has been done to reduce the effect of a tsunami. Beautiful it isn’t. Necessary? Hopefully not. But fully understandable. Several meter high cement walls, signs stating how far you will need to be away from the coastline, and escape routes. Below are two horns, installed at temple 25. Before I realised what they were, I thought it was a piece of art.

Like most towns and villages along the coast, they are fishing villages, and there are many small inlets with fishing boats. When walking, you need to take the correct route, or get stuck and not be able to get over to the other side, which happened to me a couple of times. Temple 25, Shinshoji, lies in such an inlet, and is built up the side of a hill.

To get to the main temple you need to go up a long, steep staircase, with the bell tower two-thirds of the way up. And when you get to the top there are even more stairs. An old lady and who I imagined to be her daughter, were at the top of the first flight and looking apprehensive at the next. After a couple of minutes contemplating, the old lady took the initiative to take the next flight. Fishermen believe that by praying in this temple, it will protect those on water.

I was again running very short on cash, and could see that there weren’t any seven elevens with an ATM before Kochi, planned for tomorrow. I seemed to remember that there are ATM’s at post offices, and I could see that there was a post office close to temple 25. So I had to make a necessary detour, so that I had some cash, as many places don’t accept credit cards, even in high tech Japan.

There are 4km between temples 25 and 26, with the last kilometer uphill. The temple lies at 140m, after a steep climb. Kongochoji was founded in 807, and again you have to walk up a fairly long flight of stairs to get to the main gate.

On the way down from temple 26 there was a very steep descent through a forest to get back to the main road – it wasn’t a lot of fun. When I got to the bottom, just before the main road, there was a man putting yellow envelopes on trees. Later I saw he wasn’t the only one.

After a 30 min bus ride followed by a 15 min train ride, I am at what the Japanese call a business hotel. It’s somewhat outdated, but clean and serves its purpose, not least if I get a good nights sleep.

I expanded my horizons with a sashimi dinner at the hotel this evening. It was very good.

Todays total is 15km (felt like more) so I have walked 171 km on route and 53 km off route. I have collected 26 stamps, but still need 62 more. This morning I jumped ca. 50 of the 80 km between temples 23 and 24, and this evening, 25 of the 28km between temples 26 and 27. All these kilometers run along the coast, along the busy route 55 – this just wasn’t for me.

Again sorry for spelling mistakes and other errors, this is written in one take, often on my phone, so I know there are mistakes.

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