Saturday, 26 April 2014


Orei-mairi is the action of visiting the first temple from which one started the journey. It can also mean going to the Okunonin (Kukai's tomb) on Mount Koyasan, where Kobo Daishi rests in eternal meditation, to report to him and give thanks to him for the successful completion of the pilgrimage.
Had an interesting supper last night with fellow pilgrims at Yasokubo minshuku. The owner's mother is a hoot and is 82. She gave me a special osame-fuda. I gave her one of mine and a Canadian pin. She was so happy.
Breakfast is at 6 am, so we can catch the 7 am community bus to the JR train station, where I will head back to the Bando train station and back to temple 1. Feels funny looking at map 1 again after being at the end of the book.
Yesterday, I forgot to mention that when I arrived I came thru what looked like a newer Gate. Later on the found an older Gate that leads from the shops to the Main Hall. When I entered the newer Gate I saw the bell tower and washing station. So before I removed my pack I washed my hands and went to the bell tower and gave that bell the hardest whack I could. I am sure there is a permanent crack in the bell. I let the sound resonate thru my tired body and mind. It is bad luck to ring the bell when leaving or when you are finished your routine. It is to announce your arrival. Sometimes I wouldn't find the bell tower til I was ready to leave, so didn't ring it. I was glad to be able to find it right away, by going thru the wrong gate, and gave it a good heave with the log you swing to ring it.
After breakfast, I noticed everyone waiting outside the minshuku, instead of going to the bus stop. When I came out, they pointed at the car. I said I am taking the bus and headed towards the bus stop. The owner called out and they waved me back. What I didn't realize is the first bus isn't til 9 am at the bus stop and the owner was driving us to the local town to catch the 7 am bus. She had to make two trips. I left my osame-fuda on the table in my room with a thank you note in Japanese and my last two maple syrup candies (one for her and one for her mom).
At the bus stop it show two JR stops. I asked the other ohenros and the first was Orange Town. I checked and thought I could catch the train to Bando (stop closest to Temple 1) from there. While waiting for the bus we compared the height of our walking sticks, which had worn down due to using it. Mine was the tallest and I said I didn't walk as much.  When it was time for me to get off the bus it was sad, like I was leaving my ohenro family of six that stayed at the minshuku last night behind.
When I arrived at the JR station, looks like the trains only go to Hiketa station. When I arrived at Hiketa at 8:40 am, I asked when the next train to Bando was. The station manager (the one and only JR employee at the station) said at 11:15 am or I could take train to Itano at 9:06 am and switch to local train at Itano. I thought what's the worst that could happen was to get lost on the JR train system. Surely, I could find my way eventually. While I waited, I noticed the station manager snipping the beautiful pansies that were planted in planter boxes, for something to do, in between trains. He seemed to take great pride in keeping them trimmed and looking nice. When I boarded my train, he said local train platform 3 at Itano. I thanked him and mentioned how nice the flowers looked. His directions worked great.
I decided to get off at one stop before Bando and walk 1 km to Temple 2, to check out the shop. I remember Kaz mentioning things were cheaper there. I wanted to buy a new Hakui (vest) as mine was faded from being washed every second day from being soaked with sweat. Then I could walk the 1.3 km to Temple 1 to complete the 88 circuit. It would give me time to catch the train to Tokushima, where I will stay this evening.
When I arrived at Temple 2 there were people galore. Guess it is because it is the start of Golden Week, where everyone has the week off. It was a great feeling, when I rang the bell to say I was finished. It was interestingly to see the many ohenros starting out on their journey. After I did the full routine I checked out the shop. I then headed off to walk to Temple 1. Along the way it looked like an ohenro dad starting his walk with the vest on with three kids along, for moral support. One had the staff, one had the bell and the third was bringing up the rear. I had a chuckle and thought, dad, do you know what you are in for.
When I got to Temple 1, it was a zoo. People everywhere. Lots of tours starting. I must say it felt different now that I was finished to just relax and enjoy the surroundings. I remember day 1, it rained and I was trying to deal with rain prep verses seeing the temple. I ran into a couple from Holland and asked one of them if they could take my picture in front of the gate.  I had my new Hakui stamped to make it official. I celebrated by having a green tea ice cream at the shop close by, which I didn't notice was there the first time.
On the walk to the Bando train station, to make my way to Tokushima, this lady came running and opened a sliding door, where there was a seating area. All I understood was osettai. The next thing I understood was coffee or tea. I said tea "ocha" in Japanese. Her elderly mother was there and so happy I was from Canada. I gave them an osame-fuda and pins. They provided me with a tray of snacks. I decided to have one to be polite. I tried to explain, I finished my pilgrimage and was on my way to Koyasan. Her elderly mother had a box of small bags she sewed and wanted me to have one. She then filled it with candies. After I finished my tea, I politely bid my farewell and next received a small hand towel. I thanked them and headed for the Bando train station.
When I arrived in Tokushima, there was an English tourist information center and I checked where I catch the 7:15 am bus for the ferry in the morning. I picked up a map of the city. Lots of big stores, which might be brutal if I want to shop, as my day pack is already full of osettai.
Found the Agnes hotel OK and settled in. It is very nice. They have free WiFi in the lobby, so I can post the pictures I took.
All on all a wonderful orei-mairi day.
Picture 1-Golden week fish kite flags on walk to Temple 2
Picture 2-Temple 2 Gate
Picture 3-Temple 1 Daishi Hall
Picture 4-Temple 1 Gate
Picture 5-Temple 1 Gate with me
Picture 6-Temple 1 Pagoda

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Arnold for the wonderful blog and pictures. I am sure it took a lot of effort to do it each day after the walking and temples. I hope to hear more when you return to Ottawa.
    Namo daishi hengo kongo.