Uwajima

The next day I ran into the young henro from yesterday. He was at the bus station that I was at so I thought he was heading the same way that I was, but he was actually getting picked up by his parents. I didn’t get to ask if he was going to finish or not, but I hope he is able to one day.

Temple 40, Kanjizaiji, is a bit up the coast from Sukumo in a small town called Ainan. This temple is up in a neighborhood past an elementary school. The henro path takes you through this cool small corridor that leads you directly in front of the temple.

Main temple

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Water basin

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Looking out from the main gate

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Frog statue

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I was going to try and decide if I was going to visit all the temples that day or split them up into two days. Temples 41-43 are in a line of sorts. 41 and 42 are pretty close to each while 43 is a hike up north. When I reached Uwajima it was still pretty early into the day so I decided to try and visit them that day. I dropped my stuff off at the hotel and made my way to muden which is the closet train station and walked to Ryukoji which is temple 41.

It was a nice walk through a new neighbor hood and then a left turn to head up a hill to the temple. On the hill to the left of the temple was a large graveyard. When I got to the main temple, which is up a bunch of stairs, I was surprised when I turned around that I could see pretty far out into the valley. I did not think I was so high, but with the slope and stairs it put me on a nice elevation. This view was just the start for the day.

I prayed, got my stamp and headed off. The pilgrim route has you going through the graveyard and through the hill to get back onto the main road to follow to the next temple. I followed the path at first, but must of taken a wrong turn (sometimes the henro path is not marked very well) and ended up in someones back yard. I headed towards the main road which you follow all the way to temple 42, Butsumokuji. As I walked mountains framed all around me. Farms came and went and neighborhoods clustered together. I really cannot imagine what it would be like to live in a place as beautiful as this. I imagine this is what Switzerland or something is like. Where you step outside and are surrounded by mountains. Trapped in this valley of nature.

I moved past another bend in the road with a whole neighborhood on the corner. The architecture and set up reminded me of something that was built a while ago. The houses looked like they needed to survive some less fortune circumstances and were pretty brutish in design. Regardless of how they looked kids played in the playground outsides and some elderly sat chatting on the benches. As I walked in the distance their was this brilliance of purple on the side of the road. As I approached a flowerbed lined the side with purple flowers in full bloom. I thought it was just a section of the road, but it kept going. It was incredible. The sun was shining and hitting them just right to radiate their color. There was a father along the road that was taking pictures of his little girl riding her bike with the flowers. I tried my best to stay out of his pictures, but I am sure that I ended up in a few.

Temple 42, Butsumokuji, sat before a large hill on the side of the road. You walked up some stairs to the main gate and then straight forward was the temple office and to the left was the main temple. When looked back towards the way I just came the mountains and peaceful valley backdropped all the temple statues. After I got my book signed and stamped a lady asked me if I wanted something to eat and drink. They serve matcha and Youkan (a sort of jelly) which was delicious. It was just about 3:30 when I left the temple and I did not have time to travel to the next temple, so I went back to Muden station to catch the train home. It was a nice walk back, as before I was going against the wind, now I was going with the wind. The train that I caught home was a little bit different then the others (and not sure if I was supposed to be in there) Inside was plastic enclosures display cases with different trains in them. The whole train car was a train museum. There was this girl that I think was the mascot of the train taking pictures with this group that it looked liked booked the car. It was a pleasant surprise.

That night I went out to get yakitori, which is chicken cooked different ways on skewers. I ended up meeting a lot of cool people. First was Susumu and his wife. I was sitting a lot at first and he waved me over to sit next to them. He was wondering what I was up to in Japan. Turned out he knew the owner of the place we were eating, they were friends. I tried buying them a drink, but they kept refusing haha. Susumu is a metal worker. He makes some awesome stuff. Check out his Instagram He recommended me this vinegar chicken and it was amazing. Just the right amount of sweetness and sourness. Another guy sat next to my left who had worked in the United States a while ago. We talked a bit about the car companies when he asked me where I worked. It was a pretty great night. The next day I would explore a little of Uwajima and then travel to temple 43.

Uwajima Castle

The next day I wanted to see the castle in town. Up high in the center of the city was Uwajima castle. The path once you get to the main gate up to the castle is pretty steep. Large stone stairs followed by some stone ramps led me up to the top. When I reached the top I was pretty amazed at how small the castle actually was. On this gaint hill was this tiny castle. But I could see why it was located where it was. You could see everything around you for miles.

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Some information about the castle

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Mountains to the east

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View of the north

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After the castle I decided to head out to the temple for the day. Today I would be visiting temple 43, Meisekiji. The temple is in the town of Seiyo, on the train ride over I was sitting next to an elementary school teacher who had lost one her eyes. She explained to me that her kids always think that she might be in the yakuza(like Japanese mafia). She was in really good spirits. She gave a paper crane that she had been folding during the ride. The temple was over a large hill that did not seem so bad at first, but like all temples, the steepness comes out of no where. You walk on nice mountain paths and then all of a sudden stairs, then steep slopes. And they never end once they start. The forests in Japan are thick and shaded. As you enter them, even on a sunny day you will be clouded in shadow till you reach the other side. Sometimes I find descending the trails harder then going up. The steepness and rocky paths of some of the trails makes it scary to be heading down to your destination. Alas out of the dark woods I reached the gate for the temple.

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Cool lantern in the front gate

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The main temple

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The temple office

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It was a nice temple hidden among the trees and hills of the land. There is road that leads to this temple and I was tempted to take it back, but it goes all the way around the mountain I went over to get there. It seems that going back over the place you came from is always easier then the first time. Odd that it might be just as hard, but your mind is warmed up to the idea. The obstacle is not unknown anymore. I headed back to town for the night and planned out the next day. I would have to wake up pretty early to head off to Matsuyama.

Matsuyama Quiet Towns
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