08 May 2008

Day 31: Tracking back and starting again

I never expected to get stuck in Takamatsu.

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.

It turned out to be a long and fitful night. I was up by five and had my bag packed and ready to go when the rain started. Fortunately, it was falling lightly and by the time I got to the next temple I was hardly wetter than usual. 

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.

Mutsumi was planning to meet me in Kagawa the day after the next and so I decided to pack it in and go straight to the city, bypassing the next temple that I would return with Mutsumi in two days.

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.

Yahshimaji, #84

Yakuriji, #85

Shidoji, #86

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

a Buddha, I don't know which, at 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.


1 comment:

craiginjapan said...

Jeff, just wanted you to know that even though I haven't been commenting, I have been reading. It's been a long time since were were in that other Temple together. Persevere, and try to visit next time your in the Kansai. Craig