Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Temple 60-Yokomineji; Temple 61-Hojuji

Had a wonderful supper last night. It was one of the best Japanese meals yet. They just kept serving these small Japanese dishes. Had a wonderful soak in the onsen afterwards, to help soothe those aching muscles. Breakfast was good as well. I would recommend the Yunotani Onsen (close to temple 64) as a good place to stay.
My morning homework on Temple research:
Temple 60: Kukai trained here and it is said that through prayers given here, the brain illness of Emperor Kanmu (781-806) was cured. In 1909 the temple was restored, after it fell into disuse.
Temple 61: When Kukai came here, he found a pregnant woman who was in pain, so he lit incense and prayed for her. As a result a baby boy was safely born. The temple is known as "Koyasu Daishi" - Daishi of protecting children.
Well, it was quite the hike to Temple 60. Kukai was happy to be in the mountains again. Here I am in Shikoku Japan, which seems to be in the middle of nowhere sometimes. The only sounds that breaks the silence, when walking the mountain paths, are the birds singing, the sound of ones own footsteps and the occasional dinging of the small bell attached to my Kukai walking stick. It gives one time to think about allot of things, life, death, past, present and future - ones existence in this present form.  Haven't heard my salamanders crooking for awhile. The scenery was truly wonderful.
When I got to Temple 60, I decided to take a break and wait to see if another ohenro shows up and I could follow discretely. There were lots of tour groups visiting the temple. The first picture is of the temple. I then eyed one ohenro I saw before, and thought I would discretely follow him. As I waited, I saw another walking ohenro head out, so I quickly tried to follow him. He was a fast walker. Along the way I met my Japanese guy, who had done the Camino from yesterday, coming the opposite way. We chatted a bit, and then I completely lost the other ohenro. I was on my own again, hoping I didn't get too lost.
As I was walking, I ran  into another ohenro walking the opposite direction and stopped to answer his English questions. Then, all of a sudden, the original ohenro I wanted to follow, appeared and walked past us. I politely bid my farewell and went on the hot pursuit. It was tricky on the way down and I could see he was so tired, he kept almost tripping on the steep uneven terrain of the path. At one point he stopped and said "dozo". I didn't want to go ahead, but did. I then found a wonderful view, which I used to stop and take pictures, so he could "dozo" ahead of me.
As I followed again, I came across him at some benches along the way, taking a break. I decided to take a break as well.
He then started to talk to me in English. He said it was his 7th time. We exchanged osame-fuda. Another ohenro joined us at the rest spot to have a cigarette.
When talking to another foreigner ohenro, earlier on in the pilgrimage, he said he noticed lots of Japanese men smoke and there are no health warnings on the cigarette packaging. However, you don't see many Japanese women smoking. I noticed most of the places I stayed at have ashtrays in the room and some rooms have a heavy smoke odor. I think the concept of non-smoking rooms haven't caught on in Japan yet. I have seen some signs in the room asking you not to smoke in bed, at least.
Since I didn't want to appear to be eagerly following the other ohenro, I waited for a bit after he left and ended up losing him. I then came to a detour, which was in Japanese and I didn't understand what to do. Since there was a big rope across the path and the indicator seemed to be to take a logging road straight ahead. As I walked on the logging road I came across what I think, were two ohenros having lunch, and said "ohenro" and pointed in the logging road direction I was headed on, and they nodded yes.
I came out on a paved road and didn't know where in the heck I was. There was no other ohenro in sight. I continued to head down the paved road, hoping I would run into another ohenro, but didn't. I seemed to be following the right way, but was never quite sure. Another foreigner mentioned I didn't have the up-to-date latest book, and there have been changes since the last edition. Note to self, make sure you get the most recent route guide edition next time.
Along the walk on the road I noticed some of the cherry blossoms had already fallen and made the pavement look pink. It was like walking on pink carpeted pavement. It helped keep my mind off the fact that I might be lost again!!!! I said to myself "just enjoy the beauty I am sure things will work out". If not, I might make the news of a Canadian foreigner, lost while doing the pilgrimage and never heard from again.
I did end up making it to temple 61, after a diversion thru a shrine, which I thought was the temple, but not a soul was there, which was a good indicator. I thought, what the heck is going on. I thought this looked easy in the book. Was I in a bad dream. Was my mind playing tricks on me. As I finally made it to Temple 61, I saw my Japanese smoking ohenro, I left on the trail, arrive at the temple before me, coming a different way. I thought, how could that be. I probably took the wrong detour again. But at least I made it. As I was leaving temple 60, I ran into my Japanese Camino ohenro who was on his way up and I was on my down, again and said "you are a fast walker".
Temple 61 is a huge new concrete temple. You were allowed inside and it was like a huge basilica church inside with this huge Buddha statue. The second picture is of the Buddha inside. The third picture is from the outside where you can see it is a modern building verses the traditional Japanese looking temple.
Since I was too early to check-in to the minshuku, I was thinking of getting my hair cut as it was getting long and would make it easier when it was warm. I came across the familiar barber rotating red, blue and white sign. I saw one close to where I was staying yesterday, but there was someone in the chair, so didn't get up the nerve to go in. I looked in and saw all three chairs empty. So I thought, I could try and use my translator to communicate what kind of haircut I wanted.
So I got up the nerve and went in. The barber was folding towels. I said haircut. He nodded yes and pointed to a chair. I grabbed my phone and thought I would give the translator a go. I pointed to the back and typed in short. He said clippers. I said yes "hui" in Japanese. Then I pointed to the top and typed in half. He nodded. Wow, I was off to the races. He seemed willing to give it a go. At this point I didn't care if he shaved me bald. Well, Canadian barbers could learn a thing about service from the Japanese. After putting a towel round my neck and the apron around my neck, he started by putting all kinds of stuff in my hair and gave the most wonderful head massage. Then he got a hot towel and wrapped it around my head. Felt like I was in a spa. He then used the clippers and when he switched to the scissors they were going 100 km per hour, like the movie Edward Scissorhands. After he was finished, he asked if I wanted my hair washed or a shave. I said no, since I had shaved this morning. Afterwards I thought of Bob's adventures in India, in getting shaves and should have gone for the experience.
I was amazed it was only 1000 yen, about $10 Canadian. I thought, I wish I could get this service at home.
I gave him one of my osame-fuda and a Canadian pin. He gave me his business card, guess for my next ohenro walk.
I found a Lawson convenience store and got something to eat for a late lunch. Ran into my Camino Japanese ohenro again, as he was having a smoke break. He must have passed me while I was getting my hair cut. He asked where I was staying  and I told him at Komatsu Minshuku, not that far away. He was going to do the last two temples for this section and stay farther on. I said I already did all the temples for this section. Will stay overnight and take the train the next morning to cut off 50 km of walking. I said maybe I will see you at next temple, since you are such a fast walker. He laughed.
I checked into the minshuku and was welcomed with my name. Found a color coordinated pair of slippers and was off to the races.. After being shown my room, established supper was at 6 pm, she would call when it was bath time and I couldn't pay now, I settled in. I learned I had to wait til after supper to pay, in case I wanted a beer or sake with supper. Did I mention the stairs are very steep. Almost like climbing a ladder. And with slippers on to boot. I am sure I am going to fall head over kettle one of these times. I have had the occasion when a slipper went flying off, trying to maneuver going down the steep stairs.
As I was washing the bottom of my Kukai walking stick (which you are suppose to do before placing it in your room) I was summoned. It was my bath time. I have the bath routine down pat now.
I have got accustomed to Japan being the land of slippers and the almost magical sliding doors. It is an art to know when one must wear slippers. You step out of your shoes and into your slippers at the main entrance door. Then you step out of your slippers to enter your tatami mat room. When you leave your room you step back in your slippers to head to the toilet. At the toilet, you step out of your slippers and into a pair of bathroom slippers. When you leave the toilet, I have acquired the skill of backing out of my toilet slippers, so they are in the right direction for the next person. Not sure on the slipper etiquette when going in the bath area yet. I just leave them outside somewhere and haven't been corrected yet.
As for the magical sliding door. When you seem stuck and there is no doorknob just look for a little indentation in the wood and 'voila' the panel slides away. The door is now open. Last night at the onsen accommodations there was a wooden sliding glass panel door into a small foyer of my room. Step out of slippers up to small landing, where there was a sink. To the right was a sliding wooden door to my own private toilet with a pair of toilet slippers (verses being shared) and to the left a sliding door to my 4 tatami mat size room. Then there were sliding panels to the futon closet, clothes closet and as window coverings. When in doubt, see if it slides one way or the other.
Supper was interesting. There were 14 people for supper. Each person had a cooker with a crock pot with boiling water. You had a huge plate of raw vegetables and meat. I discretely watched everyone else and followed suit. There was also an array of pickles, rice, egg pudding, sashimi and slice of apple for dessert. Lots of people were ordering beer. When it came to me, I just said green tea, matcha. Then I noticed people started to pay.  So, I placed my money on the table and was quickly brought a receipt showing 5940 yen. I said "hui" and off she went to get change. The next order of business was breakfast time and was given the 6 am sign (which is, they hold one hand up for 5 and add the index finger from the other hand to the palm which makes six). Kind of the foreigners hand sign for numbers you need to learn. I asked about WiFi and was told no. Since my Fido data plan has reached it's limit, I decided to wait til tomorrow to post. Hopefully the hotel will have WiFi. Tomorrow will be a kind of rest day. I plan to take a 50 km train trip to the next big city Shikoku-Chuo. Since there are no accommodations close to the temple 65; and it is a too far to make it and then onto the next temple, I will stay near Iyo-Mishima JR station at Hotel Ribu Max and start my venture to Temple 65 the next day. Temple 65 and 66 are suppose to be hard climbs with temple 66 being the highest at over 900 meters. Hopefully the hotel I am staying at will have WiFi, so I can post this blog entry.

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