Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Temple 25-Shinshoji & Temple 26-Kongochoji

Breakfast was at 7 am. Had a nice night sleep. Must be the salt air. It is windy this morning with lots of surf. Love the salt air which is good for my sinuses. You can see the waves from my room.
Thanks to those who left comments on my blog. I appreciate the encouragement and your comments.
It was a little windy and cool this morning. I decided to walk the scenic path along the shore with the waves crashing against the rocks. The path eventually led back to the main road where cars can drive up to temple 24. When I looked, I could see the Japanese couple that were on the train and bus yesterday. I waved and they waved back. They continued on the marked route while I continued on the scenic route, along the shore line. I could see signs for whale watching.
I was hoping I would find my way back to the marked route. Eventually I did, and could see the Japanese couple behind me.
The harbour looked like the one from Masa's Japanese drama series (he liked to watch in Canada)where they go diving for sea urchins. I took note of the many tsunami evacuation signs I saw along the walk, to see which way to run. Interesting the signs are in Japanese and English. Not sure what the evacuation siren would sound like, but would probably just follow everyone else, if there is a tsunami evacuation.
Temple 25 steps are under repair so we could not go up to the Buddha Hall. So everyone had to say their heart sutra by the stamp office. A bit of a let down but as they say in Japanese "shogeni" - which means "can't be helped". 
I was planning on spending some time at the temple, but wasn't meant to be. Maybe next time.
I continued on to temple 26 where I plan to stay for the night. I stopped at a bus stop to talk with some locals and take pictures of the freshly planted rice fields. At this point the Japanese couple passed me, so I now got to follow them. Just as we started for our steep climb up the mountain I decided to rest before making the 200 meter climb. I checked my guide book and saw there was a longer switch back route the cars use, that is supposed to be more scenic, so thought I would try it, to be easier on the hip flexors. I will take the steep way down tomorrow.
As I was resting at the parking area I saw the Japanese couple on their way down and I waved goodbye.
Got to spend a couple of hours writing my blog,  since I was too early to check in. The wind was chilly all day. 
There was a small rest building, which I thought was a lunch spot. When I went in and asked for udon, she shook her head and poured me a cup of green tea. They had what looked like a sweet potato but yellow, cut up that was cooked. I saw other ohenros eating it so gave it a try. It was very tasty. When the other ohenros were leaving she gave them a bag of the cooked potato to take with them. I enjoyed the hot green tea on a cool day. I am not complaining that it is cool. It is way better than rain and made it comfortable for walking instead of hot and sunny. I then figured it was not a restaurant, but an osettai place for pilgrims to rest. 
I took a couple of pictures. The first picture is of a kettle Kukai used to cook one grain of rice, which became ten thousand (so the story goes). 
The second picture is of the Buddha Hall and large kettle to put your three sticks of incense in.
The third is a picture is a little shrine in a pond on the way to the accommodations.
It was interesting to sit and watch the bus tours arrive, usually lead but one or more monks, who get the group in formation and lead a series of chants. I get to practice my heart sutra with them, very discretely and secretly chanting along with them.
What was kewl today is to see younger Japanese ohenros on their motorcycle doing the ohenro pilgrimage. Kewl to see them in their leather jacket and one guy had s black scroll case over his shoulder. Very kewl indeed to see the younger generation doing the ohenro in their own way.
Pictures 4 and 5  are of Un-gyo and A-gyo that guard the temple in the gate. I said hi from Dara and they said they are awaiting for Dara's return visit.
When I went back to have one more look at the Buddha Hall, I noticed some stairs going down on one side. When I went down there were two rooms with the lights on and doors open. One was a museum of many old drawings and artifacts. Since the description plaques were in Japanese I was unable to read the significance. However, I enjoyed walking around by myself. Then there was this room with 100's, if not thousands, of about 8 inch wood and metal carvings of Kukai. They had an altar with a Buddha and incense you could light and leave a donation in the box. I lit three sticks and said the heart sutra. I was feeling great to have the extra time to explore this great part of the temple. Since it was close to 3 pm, I headed to the temple accommodations, which were a little ways from the temples.
When I checked in I am never sure of the procedure. Luckily there was another guy who knew some English and could tell me where address and name should go on the paper. After you fill it out they bring you to your room. It is huge. I added a picture below (last picture). You usually don't get a key for the room as there are no locks on the sliding doors. The room is big (14 tatami mat size). Big enough for two. Not sure if I am sharing. I guess I will find out later. I found the washing machine and did a load of wash. I then went exploring. The whole place is very large and looks like they have dorms for bus tours. While exploring, I found a beautiful pond with huge coy fish. One of the staff came by and showed me where the fish food was. I took a small hand full of pellets and started to feed them one at a time. She put down the bundle of flowers she was carrying, and showed me how to take a large handful and throw it all in at once. What a feeding frenzy.  She showed me the temple and indicated chanting is at 6 pm (I think) which I think the other woman said supper was at 6. Oh well, time will tell what is happening at 6 pm. I am sure some one will come rescue the poor gaigen if I am in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The cherry blossoms from my window are just wonderful. They are in full bloom. Truly beautiful. I now know why Dara said you must stay at temple 26. For sure, a must place to stay when doing the 88 temples.
I had a nice bath, which was a large onsen type bathing area. I was amazed at some of the stories. One guy has done it 20 times, 10 by car and 10 walking. Two other guys who are walking together, have many bandages on their feet and toes, as well as, knees and back. When I told them I don't have enough time to walk it all, they said it was OK to use train and bus the first time. Everyone does the pilgrimage their own way. My blister is healing well and after soaking it in the hot onsen, I added a new layer of liquid "new skin", which has really done the trick for me. I showed the guy with lots of tape on his toes my toe socks and he appreciated me giving him the advice.
So around 5:55 pm there was lots of commotion going on and was going to check out the prayers in my yukata. I saw everyone else with their white ohenro jacket on, so quickly changed. It was packed. While we waited for the monk to arrive the guy next to me struck up a conversation in English. He said his group was a walking group, however, at the end of each day a bus took them to where they are staying and then the next morning back to where they left off. He said they were impressed I wanted to come to prayer session with my plastic heart sutra card (written in the alphabet instead of Japanese) in hand. After the chanting or prayers the monk gives a talk. It must have been funny as people were laughing. He did mention osettai a few times.
After prayers, I followed the group to supper. I didn't know where to sit, so hung back til no one gave me directions, so just took a spot at a table with fellow ohenros, once the big tour group settled in.
Just as supper was starting this woman came and handed me the cordless phone. I answered and it was Kayoko calling to say she picked up her hat OK and thanked me for rescuing it. I was truly amazed she was able to contact me. I guess since I was the only one foreigner it was easy for them to locate me during supper. She said she could only answer my email in Japanese, not in English, so she wanted me to know she was happy she was reunited with her black floppy hat. I was surprised, glad and relieved I was able to get it back to her, so she could proudly wear it for the rest of her pilgrimage. 
Supper was interesting as usual. Had sashimi again. One man asked if I eat sashimi in Canada and I said no, but it is so different, fresh and tasty here in Japan. There was tempura, pickles, grilled tuna (I think), noodle soup, egg pudding, different veggies. All very tasty.
I asked if there were prayers in the morning and was told no morning practice. I think breakfast is at 6:30 am. Time to sign off  and post. Another interesting and delightful day.

1 comment:

  1. My friends look well and keeping things in order. I will look to stay in 26 when I return next year.