Please start at Day One

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Day 27 - Udon with Fujiisan

I had a very snotty nose last night, which gave me a restless night. Despite going to bed soon after 8:30pm, I did not wake up until 5:56am, only just in time for breakfast. Fujiisan and I had agreed to walk to Temple 51 together today, then go our separate ways. He was planning to stay in Matsuyama Youth (!) Hostel, and I wanted to find a Business Hotel with internet access. On the way to Temple 48 this morning, we paused at Monjuin Temple which is one of the "Bangai" Temples. "Bangai" means outside of the numbers, referring to the fact that it is not one of the official 88 temples, although it does have associations with the Shikoku Pilgrimage.

We arrived at our first official temple of the day just before 9am, Temple 48 Sairinji. It was beautiful in the morning sun, and now that we were getting to lower ground, nearer Matsuyama City centre, it was considerably warmer and I was able to remove my hat and gloves for the first time in about three days. My guide book (2009 edition) had said, "The main deity which is never shown to the public, has been placed facing backwards, so most people go to the back of the Main Hall to worship", so I dutifully walked round to the back of the Main Hall, bowed and paid my respects. Fujii-san was watched me, looking slightly puzzled. Then he told me that they now had a new deity, which he showed me through the front doors of the Main Hall, facing forward, so I started over again.

Temple 51 Ishiteji, is very close to Matsuyama City centre and was very busy, it is quite a tourist attraction and is a sprawling complex of halls, statues, shrines, pagodas, caves, and even has a mini precinct of shops and stalls all selling pilgrim / religious accessories. After we had finished at the Stamp Office, Fujiisan took me to a restaurant nearby to buy me Udon noodles as a parting gift. I had been too nervous to go through the curtained doorway into one of these traditional Udon restaurants by myself, as I found the menu too confusing; but now that my vegetarianism had temporarily lapsed, and with Fujiisan to guide me, it was a great experience.

However, I wasn`t eating my Tempura Udon noodles correctly. My typically English table-manners ensured that I didn't make a sound while eating. Japanese people display their enjoyment of eating noodles by slurping them loudly, quite ostentatiously even, and were concerned by my silence that I was not enjoying the food. Fujiisan showed me how to SLURP the noodles loudly! After we ate we said our goodbyes. I will miss Fujiisan, we have stayed in the same lodgings for nights, eaten about seven meals in a row together, and walked together for three days and become good friends. He has been my own personal tour guide, I have not had to refer to my guide book so often, although he occasionally misses a turning and we have to backtrack a few hundred metres while he laughs and says, "Oh mistake!". Fujiisan will continue walking tomorrow, but I am taking a day off for rest, relaxation and sight-seeing so he will get ahead of me, although when I take a train or bus I may catch up with him again.

I am not progressing very well with the "police" angle of this tour. I have passed a few Koban and larger police stations recently but walked past them. Arranged meetings would be easier, but due to my flexible timetable I have just been 'dropping in' for short chats with the Japanese officers which does not always work out conveniently. The theme of this blog is a Policeman's Pilgrimage, but I do not need to force a police angle into it, I am still a cop, so I assume I am already writing from a policeman's perspective naturally.

  • Distance walked today =  15km
  • Distance walked so far = 543.3km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 48; Sairinji, Temple 49; Joudoji, Temple 50; Hantaji, Temple 51; Ishiteji.
  • Kouban visited today = nil.
  • Accommodation = Hotel and breakfast ¥4280, Hotel Taihei, Matsuyama City, Ehimeken 〒790 08--
  • Expenditure today = four Temple Stamps¥1200, phonecard ¥3000, stuff in hardware store (gloves, rainjacket blah blah) ¥1540, food for evening meal, sake, and snacks for  lunch etc tomorrow ¥2126  . 
  • Settai = Temple 48 gave out a sweet and a tiny origami shirt, udon noodles in a restaurant from Fujii-san

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