Sunday, 6 April 2014

Temple 36-Shoryuji & Temple 37-Iwamotoji

When I went to check-in at 3 pm yesterday at the Business Hotel, the door was still locked. I thought the sign says check-in at 3 pm. Then I realized the door might be for a restaurant. Maybe it was like the Business Hotel in Iwasa, where the check-in was on the 2nd floor. Sure enough, it was. So glad that when I arrive, say my name, they node yes. Then sometimes they ask for my passport, depending on where I am staying. The next order of business is to find out when is breakfast. It is at 7 am and I say OK. Then I ask where and she points to the tables in the room where I am standing. She points to a sign that the office is only open from 3 pm to 9 pm. She then takes me up to the room and shows me how the key opens the door and has a magnetic fob that needs to be inserted to activate the power in the room.
After heading out to get my bento box supper, I settle down comfortable that I have found the place for another night.
Since it has been cool the last two days and the wind was very strong, I decided to see if I could find a department store. I ended up finding another grocery store and upstairs they sold clothing and things for 100 yen. I was able to find a cheap $15 windbreaker. As well, some toe socks, which I  think have prevented me from getting blisters between my toes. Just in case my other ones give out, as they were starting to get thin from the walking and washing. Once outside the store, I put on the windbreaker which made it much better to deal with the cold wind.
While walking yesterday, one of the Japanese ohenros asked me if I liked rice or bread. I said rice. He said he liked bread. I found it interesting at the time for him to say he liked bread. When I checked into the business hotel and asked what time breakfast was, from my Japanese phrases I had written down, I was asked if Japanese breakfast OK. I said OK.
This morning, while I had my miso soup, cabbage salad with some kind of smoked or seasoned fish, rice with my raw egg over it, pickles and green tea, I noticed two Japanese business men arrive. One looked like the boss, the other the worker. They didn't say a word to each other, even though they were sitting across from each other. They both were served a toast breakfast with salad and some fresh fruit. I guess this is what my Japanese ohenro meant when he says he likes bread. Learn something new each day.
Temple 36 was nice with lots of steps to get to it. There was a nice pagoda on the way up the steps along with a nice waterfall with statues. The first picture is of the Buddha Hall and the Daishi  Hall on the left. The history behind temple 36 is when Kukai was in China, he studied under the direction of Keika, the 7th patriarch of Shingon Buddhism at Shoryuli. Before Kukai left to return to Japan, he threw a vajra (five pronged ritual object) towards the east and later found it at this spot. He founded Temple 36 giving it the same name as the one in China, in memory of his master.
I then took the train to Kubokawa station and walked to Temple 37, where I am staying for the night. Temple 37 is a large Temple. The second picture is of a vajra in front of the Daishi Hall at Temple 37.
Since I was too early to check in, I walked around looking for a coffee shop. Where is a Tim Horton's when you need it? I walked by a place that said coffee shop in English but it didn't look like it was open. Just as I was getting up the nerve to go in, this little old lady thrusted 200 yen in my hands and said osettai.
When I opened the door to go in, it was small and a few people having lunch. I just wanted a tea. I got out my Google translator and typed in tea. Then she said lemon in English. What the heck I said yes. Then hot or cold. I said hot.
I spent about 45 minutes going over hotel options for the rest of my pilgrimage, so I could email Masa and have him try to book for me . As I was leaving,  I gave her 200 yen and she wrote down 380, so quickly fetched another 200 yen. I was about to give her my nameslip, a Canadian pin and maple syrup candy and she pushed 500 yen coin in my hand. Since, it was osettai I couldn't refuse. What an experience.
I headed back to the temple for my 3 pm check-in time. I went into the main Buddha Hall to look at and take some photos of the 575 pictures on the ceiling. The next thing a fellow ohenro in perfect English said Marilyn Monroe and pointed for me. Wonder why she had to tell me there was a Marilyn Monroe panel. Was it a sign someone else was looking out for me. I took it as a sign that someone who likes Marilyn Monroe must be looking out for me.
I didn't notice this temple nun was cleaning and redoing the flower arranging. She looked at me and seem to scold me for taking pictures l think. I quickly put the camera away and just stood there admiring the beauty of the temple. She then came over with a paper with the chats written in the alphabet and commence to teach me to do the chants, while tapping my arm to help me get the beat. She spent about 30 minutes practicing with me making sure which ones had to be said three times. When I bid my farewell and asked what time chanting was, she told me 6 am. I gave her a Canadian pin and she was so happy. Amazing how a small Canadian pin goes a long way.
I checked in and the front area check-in lady was so nice. She just seemed to know I was the foreigner she was expecting. After being taken to my room and reminded they provided "no food", I told her my plans to buy a bento box and she smiled. She told me bath was open as of 4 pm.
After settling in I headed out to pick up my bento box as I had cased out a place earlier, where the local Y store (like 711 or Macs) was.
I was back in my room working on my future hotel planning again, when I heard this woman at the door next to me and a commotion. I thought maybe they were announcing bath time. When she came to my door she waved me to come. I thought maybe more chanting practice, oh no. She took me to the Buddha Hall and said Americans you go listen and opened the closed hall to let me in.
It was an American tour, where the monk was chanting for them and it followed with an explanation about the temple, Kukai and the 88 temple pilgrimage, where a translator translated. He explained the 575 ceiling panel pictures were painted by local people from age 11 to 88. He said they had the freedom to paint whatever they wanted. There are many flowers and some of pictures of their deceased family. He said there is even one of Marilyn Monroe and I pointed up as she was right above my head where I was sitting.
After the tour I had a chance to talk to some of them and answer questions about my pilgrimage, as they were not one of the bus pilgrimage tour groups. I went to find the cleaning nun and gave her a great big "arigato".
Back at the accommodations, I was able to find a washer and dryer to do a load of wash after having my bath.
What a wonderful day. Tomorrow I will see if I can find my way to the next temple which is 82 km.
The last four pictures are of Temple 37, the main gate with Un-gyo and A-gyo on guard to ward off evil spirits.

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