Please start at Day One

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Day 26 - 100 Years of Hospitality

It was another bitterly cold morning, with only a little snow, but my fingers were still throbbing with cold for most of the day. The ryokan I had planned to stay at this evening was fully booked, and so were the other two nearby. Apparently there are lots of high school rugby teams touring the area and all the Ryokan are busy. I eventually booked a ryokan, then Fujiisan told me this was the same he had already booked for himself, so we agreed to walk together again today. I found another payphone this morning, but it was another domestic-only phone, so this gave Fujiisan another opportunity to laugh at me. We had to retrace yesterday's steps and walk back almost to Temple 44 before turning off towards the city of Matsuyama. We were already high in the mountains, and continued to climb gradually all morning to an elevation of about 700 metres. 

Around mid-day we started to descend from the mountains, we could see Matsuyama City below us, but still far in the distance. As we descended the temperature started to increase slightly, only slightly. People shouted to us from a building, they invited us to come in and eat, drink and rest. The building was called Sakamoto-ya, a Henro hospitality station. We met Isshiki-san, who is a schoolteacher during the week, and he volunteers on Saturdays to help out at the Henro hospitality station. Sakamoto-ya is very well established, this hospitality station has been dishing out food, drink and assistance to walking Henro for over a hundred years. We were given warm grilled mochi, hot green tea, manjou, a kind of "tart" which is a Matsuyama speciality, an orange each, and a bundle of assistance and information leaflets - some of which were in English.

Fujii-san told me he is 72 years of age, but he is fit. Although we mainly walked together he was sometimes ahead of me; he walks faster downhill, and I walk faster uphill. He was his usual cheerful self today, he is very good company and an informative tour-guide. He says Konnichiwa to everyone we pass, and starts conversations with anyone and introduces them to me. He is able to tell me the names of all the flowers and trees we see, and the food that I am eating. He gives me information at each of the temples: which stones to stand on, which stones to sit on, which ones to put my hands on etc. He watched me washing my hands at one of the temple wash-basins and told me I was doing it wrong, he showed me the `proper` way: 

1 hold the ladle in your right hand and fill it with water,
2 pour the water over your left hand to wash it,
3 transfer the ladle to your left hand and pour water over your right hand to wash it,
4 transfer the ladle to your right hand again and pour water into your cupped left hand to drink from and wash out your mouth
5 tip the ladle up so that water pours out over the handle to wash the ladle.

  • Distance walked today =  23.3km
  • Distance walked so far = 528.3km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 46; Joururiji, Temple 47; Yasakaji.
  • Koban visited today = nil.
  • Accommodation = Ryokan and two meals ¥6825, Chouchinya, Matsuyama City, Ehime-ken 〒791-1133
  • Expenditure today = two Temple Stamps¥600, can of coffee to warm up my hands ¥120, gift at Temple 47 ¥200. 
  • Settai = Fujii-san gave me a keyring/talisman of minature traditional Japanese sandals - it is now hanging on my walking staff, warm grilled mochi (ground rice cake), traditional Matsuyama "tart", hot green tea, manjou, and an orange received at Sakamoto-ya Henro hospitality station.

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