Day 1 and 2

The First of many

day 1

I left form Tokushima to Bando station to begin. Yesterday it rained quite hard and it went through out the night. Luckily the rain had stopped just as I had left that morning around 6:30. From there it is about a 20 min walk to the the first temple Ryozen-Ji. This was probably the last easy task in the trip. The streets were empty and when I arrived the temple, there were a few people sweeping the yard, but no pilgrims.

To tell you the truth the temple was a lot smaller then I thought it would be, regardless it was still a sight. The temple office is off to the side so I get bit lost trying to find it. In the videos I had watched, it alway seemed to appear right away. Inside the temple shop there were two men and women that greeted me. I picked out my stuff (hat, white coat, staff, box of candles, incense, name slips and a small bag to carry them in)

DSC01120

I fumbled through the rituals at first, but eventually made it through and thanked Kobo Daishi for looking out for me. It was off to the next temple.

I encountered three issues right away.

  1. My bag gets very heavy and taking it off and on hurts my shoulders.
  2. Because of 1, this means that getting access to my camera is very difficult while walking
  3. Also I should have bought the bigger pilgrimage bag, as I tore the straps off on accident while taking off my bag.

I will end up taking alot of photos on my phone and uploading them to instagram when I can. By the way, still learning to use instagram. As I go along the coast, I will try to take more photos and that, but as it goes now, it’s difficult.

Some pictures of temple 2

DSC01126

DSC01124

DSC01137

Also really cool dragon statue at Temple 3

DSC01141

After temple 3 I didn’t take alot of photos. I followed the road with cars sweeping by me every now and then. I dodged into alleys between Japanese homes and walked among the fields where the mountains and fresh mist swirled around.

The view is amazing.

Tokushima, even the city, is country compare to Tokyo. Which is not a bad thing. The out skirts where I was walking was a blend of old houses with a few new builds popping up here and there. The streets had concrete cut outs for the rain to go through that looked as if had been done hundreds of years ago. It was like taking a step back in time.

I journeyed all the way to Shrine 7 that day. This day was one of the only days I didn’t know where I would stay. When I arrived at the temple I was utterly desperate. My legs hurt, my feet felt like concrete, my back was crying each time my bag went up and down. Thankfully, the temple staff helped me find a place.

It was a very broken phone conversation between me and my host that ended with me handing the phone back to the women that stamped and signed my book. To my absolute joy, my host picked me up and brought me back to a sleepy little guest house next to a bridge. It had a private room just for me. I showered and then took a nap, it was only 3 p.m., but I had started walking at 7:30. Later my host drove me to the closet convenience store where I grabbed one instant ramen for dinner and some bread for the next morning. I slept well that night.

Day 2

The next day I woke up around 5 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I ended up going through my route for that day, eating breakfast and doing some stretches until 7 when I left. My host (I wish I would have grabbed her name) stood out and watched me all the way until I disappeared around the corner. I can say that she saved me last night.

The day was pretty easy, my body had healed a bit from the last day and I was feeling a lot better since I had already booked my place to stay. This was until I got to the beginning of temple 10. Temple 8 and 9 are pretty closed to each other and out in the suburbs, but temple 10 is a bit in the mountains. As I reached the bottom I saw that there were just stairs. Lots of steep stairs. Each step I told my self that this was training for the next day when I would have to head into the mountains to temple 12. As I reached the top, my legs filled my head with all sort of insults , but something magical happened as I reached the top. There was a man waiting for me, actually men, with bags of O-settai (gifts) it contained green tea and some candies. I thanked the man profusely and took a seat at bench next to the stairs. Just as I sat, a group of women came up wearing pink. They also handed me O-settai, a towel, and with broken English and Japanese between us I had a conversation about why I was there and why I chose Japan. With this experience I was once again inspired to carry on. On this massive hill of a temple I also met a man that had done pilgrimage 37 times. You can see his book pages are completely red from the stamps.

DSC01145

Group of people handing out gifts. They were so friendly.

DSC01146

I descended temple 10 and ran into an older Japanese couple who I had seen through out the the day. They were having tea at one of the shops that went up to the temple and they invited me in to sit with them. The owner of the shop made scrolls using some of the paper slips you get at each temple. She could speak English pretty well as she had learned to speak with the foreign pilgrims that came through.

Soon we said our good byes and I was off towards the mountains to my lodging. That was until I ran into the older Japanese couple again. As I was walking to get ready to cross the Yoshino river, they started coming down the stairs. I waited for them and we ended up crossing the river and the small island to the other side. We didn’t speak much to each other, but when they went to rest, he gave me directions to temple 11. I had to go now. The walk was easy until the end which was a pretty steep hill. By now, my body was aching beyond belief and I could barely lift my arms.

Temple 11 was a bit run down, but still held its temple charm. The issue was that my lodging was in the opposite direction that I would need to go tomorrow. So in order to get to my lodging I had to walk back north. It was worth it though. The place is nice, clean, the host is pleasant and I got to wash my clothes. Tomorrow she will drive me back to temple 11 with some other guests that are staying here.

My arms hurt and there is still a long time to go, but I will do my best ~!

Day 3 The Mountains Arrival
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×