Saturday, 26 April 2014

Temple 87-Nagaoji and Temple 88-Okuboji

The Grand Finale today. The weather looks like it will be a nice day. Hope to have some extra time to stop at the Maeyama Ohenro Museum, which is along the way.
Kechigan Toshiuchi
Kechigan is the action of completing one's visit to all 88 Temples.
Toshiuchi is doing the whole pilgrimage at one time.
So today is my kechigan toshiuchi day.
When I arrived at Temple 87, I came in the wrong way, because I followed the directions of a road-work construction worker. I was looking for a suitable place to leave my day pack and noticed where the gate entrance was, so thought, I might as well do things correct and headed for the gate. The next thing this woman came chasing after me, handed me a lovely little pilgrim and said osettai. I thanked her and gave her one of my Canadian pins. I bowed at the gate and made my proper entrance and then dropped off my day pack and put on my wagesa.
I noticed she was sitting there waiting for pilgrims to give them osettai. I thought what a nice way to start my last day. I went over and gave her one of my osame-fuda and thanked her again. She really enjoyed receiving the osame-fuda from me.
Since it was close to 9 am, I decided to take my photos and head off to Temple 88. Picture 1 is of Temple 87 with Main Hall on the left and Kobo Daishi Hall on the right. Picture 2 is of the Temple 87 Gate.
The walk to the Ohenro Museum took over an hour and got there after 10 am. Along the way I saw this little old lady walking slowly with her cane and stopped and gave her a Canadian pin. Later on, I past this little old man walking ever so slowly, with his cane and reminded me of my father. I turned around to go back, and when I spoke to give him a pin, he didn't stop. When I tapped him on the shoulder, he pointed to his ears, that he was deaf. I thought no problem, as I can't understand Japanese anyway and gave him a pin. He seemed pleased to receive it.
There was this wonderful lady at the museum, who was so friendly and invited you in with tea and a snack. She then asked me to put my name and address in a book. She used it to fill out my certificate, which is picture 8. They also give you a official ohenro ambassador pin and a DVD of pictures of the pilgrimage (I think-I will have to wait til I am home to see what is on the DVD). It was all free and when I typed in the translation for "donation" on my phone and showed I wanted to make a donation,  she refused. She said it was osettai. I gave her and the man that run the museum, a Canadian pin and my osame-fuda and two of the remaining four maple syrup candies. They enjoyed receiving everything. I spent about 45 minutes, looking around the museum. On the wall, they had large maps with the places from around Japan, where if you were from the area, you could leave your osame-fuda in the slot next to it. They had one labeled international. I noticed the last one was from David in the USA, I walked with for 2 days. So he must have made it, as I told him to make sure he drops into the museum to get his certificate. I added mine to the front of the see thru slot holder.
I asked about the old pilgrim route and was told both routes takes about 3 hours. The short one you have to climb up to 700 meters and back down to 500 meters. It is a tough climb. The old pilgrim route is a paved country road and longer but still a climb.
I decided to take the old pilgrim route. Well it was still quite a climb, like climbing some of the steep hills in the Gatineau Park. At one point it was taking me through a path verses the road. I decided to stick to the road. I noticed later this was shown on the Japanese map she gave me. As I continued on this narrow country road the markers disappeared and I kept going up and up and up. Of course my mind took over and questioned was I going the right way. I thought there is no other road. The problem was there wasn't a single car go by. If I was getting lost I couldn't even flag down a car. This was not feeling good. I thought of this Japanese animated movie (Spirited Away) I watched with Masa, where this family gets lost in the countryside, as the road got narrower and narrower. They end up in this magical place, where the parents get turned into pigs for eating to much and the kids have to fend for themselves. I felt like I was in the movie right now. I thought, what if I did take the wrong way and end up in the middle of nowhere. Then, I saw this man walking down the hill, with this small curved scythe to cut plants. I thought now I am in trouble. The grim reaper has found me. I quickly got out my Route Guide and looked up the name of temple 88. I said Okuboji and pointed straight ahead. He shook his head yes. So, he wasn't the grim reaper and I lived to continue on my pilgrimage. It wasn't a bad dream after all.
When I reached the top of the climb, there was a small rest area marked on the map, so I felt better, and from there on, started to see the markers again on the way down. You could see some delapitated old abandoned homes, but other than this, no life at all. There started to appear Kukai marker statues again to mark the way, which was a good sign.
Finally, I made it back to the main road and had about another 6 km to go. At the end, I had to climb up to 500 meters to get to the temple. The final 3 km were a killer being uphill and the mind kept saying "how much further".
Ran into a couple harvesting what looked like fiddleheads. She wanted to chat but I couldn't understand the Japanese. I had to friendly say, I have to go. I think she wanted to know if I did all of the temples.
I arrived around 1:15 pm, so took me about 2.25 hours, which wasn't bad. Mind you my back, legs and feet were sore.
I took my time and visited the temple. It is a very nice temple and enjoyed the extra time there. Since it is Saturday and the start of Golden Week, there were lots of Japanese visitors.
Picture 3 & 4 are of the temple and pictures 5 & 6 are pictures with me in them. Picture 7 is of the glass enclosed building, which houses all of the Kukai walking sticks that were left at the Temple. Since the staff is suppose to represent the embodiment of Kukai to guide pilgrims, one tradition is to leave it at the temple, at the end of your pilgrimage, as Kukai's job is finished. I am going to try to bring mine back to Canada for my next pilgrimage.
Outside the temple there are a few shops, so found one that sells green tea ice cream. I decided to treat myself, as part of my celebration and enjoyed it, while sitting on the temple grounds.
There is no fan fare when you get your book stamped for he last temple. No big deal. I asked for the ¥2000 certificate and was told can only do my name in kanji (not alphabet). I quickly pulled out one of my business cards with my name in kanji on the back (I made up before I left) and he agreed. He read the kanji as "Arnold Smith" and I said proudly, that is correct (HUI). I paid my fee and was told to use the hairdryer before rolling it up to put it in the tube they give you.
I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the temple energy.
Around 3:30 pm I made my way to Yosokubo, the only minshuku close to the temple. It is very nice and glad Masa was able to book it for me in advance. When I arrived the owner said "Arnold Smith Canada" and I said a loud HUI.
I was able to take my shower right away and arrange to wash my clothes, as my shirt was soaked with sweat walking up those mountains.
The room is very nice and I have my own toilet and sink, which is a nice treat.
All in all, a wonderful day and feeling great I made it to temple 88. The plan is to find out what time the bus is to the JR station tomorrow during supper and make my way back to Temple 1.
Mission accomplished. I am now an official ohenro ambassador.
Thanks to everyone for reading my blog and leaving comments, which get sent to my gmail email. They help make my day. I will continue my blog, as I make my way to Koyasan, which is where Kobo Daishi's tomb is. As well, will visit a couple of Kobo Daishi's important temples in Kyoto before heading back to Tokyo.


  1. Congratulations on the completion of your special journey. I am sure the memories and the experience will be cherished for the rest of your days. When you take the bus (in case this reaches you) you can change to a bigger bus at the highway. Then you can get off near #1 and walk past the German War museum. When you change to the bigger bus it is up a stairs to the highway stop.

  2. I think to get to #1 you take the morning bus from Okuboji then switch at the Takamatsu Expressway to the big bus. You get off the small bus, forllow the sign up a stairs through a metal door to the on the highway bus stop. There is a listing of teh busses but make sure to ask the one that stops as I almost took the wrong one. The driver of the big bus woke me up when it was time to get off and walk to #1. There is an interesting German museum worth seeing after you get off and it is an easy walk to Ryozenji. Safe journey.

  3. conglatulation! you done!、I feel I am pound to have such nice friend.

    Don't forget your booking at Kyoto. When you arrived at To-ji-Temple, go straight, there is a temple office where you can get stamped, and Daishi-do hall is right hand side. Area is free. After greeting to Kobo Daishi, go to the ticket office to pay for entering to the area fee required. The main hall (Kondo; Golden hall) could be the best place to understand so called mandara, the theoretical structure of Buddhism world by the school Kukai established and taught. To-ji-Temple was an oldest university in Japan, but because it was in the capital city, Kukai hated the influence and noises from the court nobles, so he moved to Koya-san.

    There are too many to see in Kyoto. Head of most Japanese Buddhism school are located here as well as shrines. And because it was our capital for more 1000 years, so they keep own culture and business for serving to the court, temples and rich merchants.

    But you do not have enough time, so you should come back again just for Kyoto.