But here I am going on my fourth night. I first rolled into Kagawa's capital city after a night sleeping under the awning of a mountain shrine. I had expected one of the three temples I visited that day would let me spend the night, but none of them seem to recall the life or teaching of Kobo Daishi and so instead of walking down the mountain only to have to climb back up the next day, I decided to bed down where I could find a roof. My map indicated a hut along the route to the next temple, but when I got there four henros had already set up camp. The shrine nearby, though, afforded similar shelter.
A couple from Osaka doing the pilgrimage in their van-camper gave me a ride down the mountain and saved me the slow walk on the wet and slippery henro path. They were proceeding to the next temple in sequence. I had to double back six kilometers to the temple in between the last two mountain temples. By the time I had finished at Kokubunji I was exhausted and it was only noon.
I did little that first day in Takamatsu but find a hotel, a restaurant, do my laundry and sleep. The next morning I walked through the city, up and down two mountains, and finished temples 84-87 before returning by train to Takamatsu.
Mutsumi arrived the next morning with a big hug, a beautiful smile, and a homemade picinc lunch. We ate at Ritsurin Park, visited a couple of temples, and for dinner had what everyone eats when they visit Kagawa - udon.
at Ichinomiyaji, #83
Takamatsu from Yashima
This morning we were up early to take the train to Zentsuji, the temple located in the town of Kobo Daishi's birth. It took me three days to walk from there to Takamatsu and it took less than an hour to return by express train. But where my previous visit had been during the Golden Week holidays, when the temple was predictably brimming with tourists, this morning was a very pleasant contrast, still and quiet, offering a chance to sit and listen to the wind in the trees.
the Daishido at Zentsuji, #75
the monks of Zentsuji
Once we'd had another helping of udon for lunch, we were back on the train, with Mutsumi bound for Okayama and then on to Fukuoka. I headed back into Takamatsu to rest up for my last leg of the journey, which starts to tomorrow with a 15km hike into the mountains to temple #88, the last temple in sequence but not yet my terminus. I've got 17 temples left in the next prefecture, Tokushima, plus a return visit to Koyasan.
Hope to see you somewhere along the way.
Om namu Daishi henjo kongo.