Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Ohenro Blues

I have been home now for about three weeks. Things at work have settled back into some semblance of order, having to deal with hundreds of emails.

I have to say I am now experiencing the post ohenro blues and am yearning to be back walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage. I am already planning in my mind for when I will do my next one.

A dear friend of mine, Bob, visited last weekend, who had just recently finished the Camino Pilgrimage in Spain. I enjoyed being able to share my experiences and many osettai stories with him, as well as, hearing about his adventure.

I just finished reading another ohenro's blog (  and enjoyed following along in my Route Guide book, tracing his footsteps. It brought back fond memories and gave me some great ideas where to stay next time.

I wanted to bring back Kukai (my walking stick - kongozue) back to Canada. When the Air Canada check-in agent at Narita came around from the counter and enquired about it, I asked if I could take it on the plane. She said it would depend on security. She took it over to security and came back with the bad news that it would not be allowed thru security. However, as my last osettai gift, she offered to check it thru (at no charge). I removed the handle cover and bell. She asked her baggage helper to go get a large plastic bag. He wrapped Kukai carefully in the plastic and placed a fragile sticker on it. Mentally, I said my farewell to Kukai and thanked him for helping me complete the pilgrimage, thinking maybe he would get lost on the flights home and I would never see him again.

Kukai, now stands proudly in the corner of my dining room for all to see. He made it to Toronto and then on to Ottawa. I had the opportunity to go for a nice hike to the Gatineau hills two weekends ago and took Kukai with me. He was happy to be in the mountains again.

Thanks to everyone for reading my blog and for all the lovely comments (which were emailed to me). I enjoyed getting them as I journeyed on my pilgrimage.

If you are reading my blog for the first time, the posts are in the reverse order (newest to oldest). I haven't found a way yet to reverse the order easily. If you want to read the entries in the order I travelled, you can use the list on the right hand side and work your way up.

I humbly thank Kukai and all the wonderful ohenros I met on my journey for making it an experience of a lifetime. Arigato Gozaimasu.

One of the things I enjoyed was the variety of fountain ornaments at each wash station basin and below is a picture from Temple 1 - Ryozenji, which has both a statue of Kukai and a dragon spout. I enjoyed seeing the many different dragon spouts at many of the temples.

Temple 1 Ryozenji Wash Basin Station

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Narita airport - on my way back home.

Finally able to do up another post as I was having problems with my cell phone connection. Sorry there were no posts for a couple days as Fido cut off my service. They kept calling at 2 am and leaving messages to call back a 1-888 Canadian number, which of course doesn't work from Japan.
So had to wait til I was able to get free WiFi at Narita airport before checking to see if my last post posted OK.
I am at the Narita airport waiting for my flight back to Canada.Should be boarding my flight in about an hour.
Yesterday, I enjoyed the day visiting the temple in Asakusa.  There were lots of people since it is the end of Golden week. Went shopping on the restaurant supply street and was able to buy some cherry blossom shaped dried bread for miso soup I enjoyed at my many stays and some matcha salt.

It will be a long flight back. It was a wonderful trip and a great ohenro experience. Thanks to Kaz for all his help in getting me started, hosting me in Tokyo and all his great suggestions. Thanks to Masa for making all my accommodations bookings, which made my ohenro life so much easier. I had a fantastic trip and an WOW adventure and journey. I am glad and honored to be able to complete the ohenro pilgrimage with kukai's help and be known as an ohenro-san and a Henro Ambassador.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Motsu-ji & Chuson-ji Temples

Today I took the Shinkinsen to northern Japan to see two World Heritage Temple sites - Motsu-ji and Chuson-ji.
Motsu-ji is a Buddhist temple of the Tendai sect in Hiraizumi. It contains the ruins of two older temples, which were burned down in 1226, when taken over in a feudal war and it was considered the northern boundary of Japan. The current temple was built in the 18th century and the pond is preserved the way it was 800 years ago.
Chuson-ji is the head temple of the Tendai Buddhist sect and was founded in 850. The Konjiki-do or "Golden Hall" is a mausoleum containing the mummified remains of leaders of northern Fujiwara clan who ruled much of northern Japan in the 12th century. It contains two buildings that survived feudal war. The Golden Hall is made of wood and covered with gold leaf and decorated with mother-of-pearl.
When I arrived the local tourist information office was very helpful and provided an English map. I took the loop bus to the farthest away temple Chuson-ji. It was located on a hill. It was not that bad of a walk up. It was very scenic with places to look at the beautiful view. The Golden Hall was very beautiful. I really enjoyed it. When I went in, I noticed they had a stamp office and a special stamp book for ¥2000, so I thought what the heck, lets get it. They said they could put my name on it. I wrote it in alphabet and they said they could do it in alphabet. It was very busy and lots of bus tours.
Instead of taking the bus to Motsu-ji, I decided to walk, as it wasn't that far. It was only a hop, skip and jump, compared to the Shikoku pilgrimage. On the way, I stopped at the Hiraizumi Heritage Center and they had an excellent display of the history of the area in Japanese and English. I enjoyed the visit. Then I visited Motsu-ji and got my book stamped there.
I then caught the train back to Tokyo.