Please start at Day One

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Day 31 - Professor Tanaka

I stopped at a Henro Rest hut this morning, before commencing the final 2km ascent to Temple 60. The road I had been walking on stopped suddenly, it went nowhere, but there was a pilgrimage path-marker on the other side of the road, pointing to the steep forest path, and what is described as a Henro Korogashi - a place where pilgrims fall down. A couple were at a spring near the rest hut, filling up plastic 2litre bottles with spring water and loading them into the back of their car, I saw them fill up about 20, they had come out of their way just for this water. The spring was not somewhere that you might just happen to "pass by", they had driven to the end of a long road, which lead nowhere, simply for the water. As they were about to leave, the woman ran over to my rest hut and gave me a large bun with bean-paste inside, as O Settai. I didn't want to miss out on this precious water, so I filled up my own water bottle with the spring water and started to climb, sometimes virtually on all fours as it was so steep.

Near the end of the climb I caught up with a Buddhist Priest who was standing for a minute to rest. Professor Tanaka spoke excellent English, without an American accent. He told me that he had spent years teaching Buddhism and Macrobiotics in the US and the UK a long time ago. He had been involved with an organisation called the East-West Foundation based near Old Street in central London, small world!

I bumped into Fujii-san this afternoon near Temple 63, this seemed like a huge co-incidence but I suppose it`s not really, given that we are both travelling the same path. We bowed, shook hands and chatted like old friends, then parted again. At Temple 63 there is a large stone with a hole, according to the guidebook: if you can walk from the main hall to the stone with your eyes closed, while making a wish, then put your walking staff through the hole, your prayer will be answered. I examined the stone, calculated the height I would need to be holding the staff at, walked back to the main hall (counting my paces), turned around, closed my eyes, made my wish while slowly walking 20 paces and got my staff through first time. So did I cheat? No, just some careful preparation and attention to detail - which is also what will probably make my wish come true!

  • Distance walked today =  27.5km
  • Distance walked so far = 619.5km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 60; Yokomineji, Temple 61; Kouonji, Temple 62; Houjuji, Temple 63; Kichijoji.
  • Kouban visited today =  nil
  • Accommodation =  Hotel and breakfast ¥6,100, Saijo Urban Hotel, Saijo City, Ehimeken 〒793 0030
  • Expenditure today = train fare from Iyo Himi near Temple 63 to Iyo Saijo for the hotel ¥200, evening food and sake ¥1646, and out again for an ice cream ¥296, four Temple Stamps ¥1200.
  • Settai = bean-paste bun, at Temple 60 a Japanese car-henro was chatting with myself and another young Japanese walking-henro who I saw at a couple of Temples yesterday, he then gave me and the young walking-henro a ¥1000 yen note each and said it would pay for a big bowl of udon noodles, the calligrapher in the stamp office at Temple 60 gave me a hot ginger drink which was very warming, the staff in the hotel this evening gave me a hotel small bath towel to keep as a gift.

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