Trip Start May 13, 2010
52Trip End Jul 03, 2010
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Where I stayed
The local baseball team is the Indigo Socks, the mascot is a blue
spider. Kind of neat. When the train heading for the first temple on the pilgrimage route arrived I met an interesting
couple, the H
pilgrim’s road for the future, and buying equipment. Smart. This gives
them the time to customize the gear, add pockets, hem things etc.
This pilgrimage circles
the entire island of shikoku, and is composed of 88 temples. The
traditional way is to walk the whole circuit, with a visit before and
after to Koya san, taking about 45 days. Nowadays there are bus
tours you can join which do it in a week, rather defeating the purpose I
feel. Many of the temples have overnight accommodations, and I would
be spending the next two staying at temple #6 on the route, Anraku-ji. I
was just going to do the first few on the route to see if I'd like to
do the whole pilgrimage one day.
When we arrived at the first temple, the Hs went into the shop and started looking at purchasing the pilgrim's robes, hat, walking stick and bag. I didn't as I wasn't going to do a formal pilgrimage, which involves praying at each temple and paying to get my logbook stamped.
I took a look at temple 1 and walked to temple 2 which was very close by. Temple 3 was a bit more of a hike, when exiting 2 there was a small path towards the graveyard. At one point this became a dirt trail beside a rice field. I looked down and saw tadpoles everywhere! About 20 per square foot. No wonder you see so many birds in the rice fields. There are also snails in there. I saw temple 3. It’s over 30 C out, and I have my full luggage backpack on. My original plan was to carry it as I visit temples all the way to number 6, but if I do, I will collapse and damage myself. The directions I got from the tourist office are for a combination of walking and taking the bus, so I decided to call it a day for hiking. I met up with Mr and Ms H. again at temple #3, they’re only doing the first 3 temples as a test run, and heading back with all their new gear. We walked to Itano station where they’ll take the train back to Tokushima, and I’ll take the bus to Anraku-ji (temple 6). Since there was a 1 hour wait before the bus, they treated me to lunch in a nearby restaurant
I checked in to the temple about 3 pm, which was too late to go far before the 6 pm dinner, especially given that I want to wash first. I wrote postcards and wandered out to check the bus stop location for the next morning (I want to go back and visit temple 4). I ran into a group of 4 walking ohenro-san (pilgrims) and we chatted on the way to the temple. Most are staying the night. Some are doing the pilgrimage in 2 day chunks, which is considered perfectly acceptable. I met a very friendly girl M. back at the temple. She was so sweet and enthusiastic. I gave her a Canada pin, and she gave me a safe travel charm and some sweets. We took some photos together, and suddenly it was time to go in. I had no time for a shower, since the service is 5:30. There was only one monk, (unlike Dien-in on Koya san which had at least 5 chanting) and so we were expected to read aloud from the prayer books. I can’t speed read Japanese, but I did manage to keep up for some bits, which made me feel pretty good. After that, we were all given a paper charm for safe travel.
After a delicious dinner (which I was surprised to see included meat), I chatted with the ohenro, some of whom I’d met earlier that day
The bath turned out to be spectacular, with a wood beam ceiling arching overhead and the baths all made from rough stone, as was the floor in this large room. Shampoo and conditioner were supplied as they have been in almost every place. I headed to bed as I had an early start the next day.
B: Fruit cup, milk, tuna/mayo onigiri
L: Okonomiyaki near itano station bus stop, excellent. Looked like someone's living room. Mr H. paid.
D: (included) Kaiseki tempura and soup, sunamono, rice, salad incl shrimp and squid.
If you want to visit rural Japan, this is an excellent place to do so. I had a great stay. Room had 6.5 mats and tea. tv, hot water, personal sink, western style toilet down the hall. HUGE ofuro, max capacity 20 people. Traffic audible w/ windows shut. meals included. Room had slight smell, smoking in common areas. Pilgrims all friendly but J only.