Hard to believe I am a quarter of the way through. However, some of the long stretches are coming. Since I knew I wouldn't be able to walk the entire route in the time I have, I decided to use local transportation for the long distances. Since it is 76 km to the next temple I decided to use the train and bus and spend more time exploring the temple and shrines.
The Business Hotel I stayed near the train station was nice and comfortable. I received a call from Kayoko last night in my room and was surprised. She had tracked me down and asked if I could leave her black floppy hat at the hotel desk for her to pick up on her way by. I was glad she located me and when I gave the hat to the hotel front desk with the note, since I didn't know how to explain in Japanese, she knew all about it from Kayoko, and smiled to acknowledge she would hold on it.
The train ride/bus ride was an adventure. I figured out the fare and purchased my ticket. Then a Japanese ohenro man and wife came in and looked confused, so I was able to point to the fare. The train had two cars and everything was going well, until we arrived at the Mugi station, when a train employee came on and looked like he was uncoupling the two cars. So I got off and simply said to the conductor Kaife and pointed to the first car. He shook his head "yes". The Japanese couple then followed me. When we arrived at the last stop, the bus station was right next to the train station. The Japanese couple were given a map and went off somewhere. I decided not to followed and when I found a picture map of where temple 24 was, I got up the nerve to ask one of the ladies at the small snack shop in the small bus station, and pointed to where I wanted to go, and then my watch. The lady wrote 9:59, which is what Kaz told me, so decided to stay put (and not follow the Japanese couple) and wait the 30 minutes.
The lady then served me some hot green tea as osettai, which I thanked her for.
When the bus arrived the Japanese couple were already on it and smiled at me.
It was a nice bus ride along the coast. Next time I will walk it, but for this time, I don't have enough time to do it on foot.
After getting off the bus, I had to walk back to the hotel to leave my bag. I walked past it at first but the next hotel steered me in the right direction. I was able to drop off my day pack and start the 300 meter mountain climb to the temple. I was able to spent some extra time enjoying the temple. The first picture of the Kukai Hall which has a large rock alongside it. When you drop a stone on the large rock, it sounds hollow like a bell sound. It is said the sound reaches the world on the other side. It was amazing how different size stones made different hollow sounds.
The second picture is the main Buddha Hall.
I was able to spend the afternoon along the sea shore and visiting the cave where Kobo Daishi stayed. When he looked out he could see water and sky and hence his spiritual name became Kukai representing the sky and water. Since I was the only one in the cave I said the heart sutra very loud and slow, while listening to the echo and vibration of the cave.
There were' not many people at the temple (no bus tours) so it was nice saying the heart sutra and prayers with just the sound of the wind and birds.
I enjoyed walking along the coast with the black lava rock. It reminded me as a kid how I enjoyed walking around McCoe's island beach combing. I took off my shoes and waded in the ocean. The salt water was cool and refreshing on my hot feet. I can say, I have now dipped my feet in the Pacific ocean on the Asian side.
Everywhere I went I would have people give me osettai candies.
I checked in the hotel at 4 pm (I was able to drop my bag off earlier, so they would know I wasn't going to be a foreigner "no show").
When I ran the buzzer a little old lady (must have been over 90) wouldn't let me pay, but slowly walked me to my room, making sure I was aware there was a step. I thought what happen to my day pack and will I ever see it again. Sure enough, there it was, in the room waiting for me.
After checking out the 6 tatami mat room with a low table and floor chair, it had it's own toilet and a nice separate sitting room looking out over the ocean. The owner arrived with tea and a snack. After about 15 minutes, I was shown where the bath was and got the message to use it now. As I was relaxing in the hot bath, music started to play like when I would go to the onsen with Cheryl in Hamamatsu, Japan, which was a polite indicator it was time to get ready and leave. So I finished and put on my clean yukata and walked back to my room.
Here are some of the pictures I took:
Picture 1: Kukai Hall with bell rock that makes sound to the other world when stone is dropped on it.
Picture 2: Buddha Hall
Picture 3: pool to the ocean where I soaked my feet in the ocean
Picture 4: Rock called "Eboshi Iwa" because the shape resembles an "eboshi" hat that was worn hundreds of years ago (as per the plaque which was also in English). It is made of the rock type called gabbro. Thousands of years ago movements in magma deep under the water cooled slowly which formed this gabbro. On my way to the walk along the coast, I took note of the tsunami evacuation points up the mountain, just in case I needed to find them.
All in all, an excellent day. I enjoyed taking my time at the temple and exploring what Cape Muroto has to offer. It is a great place and I would love to visit again.
Tomorrow it is back to walking about 20 km to temple 25 and 26.