Saturday, April 30, 2016

Day 19: Seiyo City to Ōzu

Cold  morning but hot by afternoon. One of those hot, not a cloud in the sky kind of days. I have no idea how far we ended up walking but we didn't get to our lodging until 5:30.

An interesting ad I see in every Toyota dealership window. The glare makes it a little hard to read but... I wonder how they think this sells their cars?

Bangai 8, where the Daishi had to sleep under a bridge for the night. This isn't the bangai temple, but the statue of the sleeping Daishi under the bridge. Which I'm certain was here in this same spot when the Daishi was alive.

A great view from the climb to another mountain pass.

What a temple looks like after it is abandoned and left to rot.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Day 18: Tsushima to Seiyo City

Woke to a cold morning. Left the hotel just before 6:30 so I could get to Uwajima Station by 9:30, when Matsushita-san's train arrived. I got there with 1 minute to spare.

From there we walked to Temples 41 & 42, and then to tonight's lodging.

Walked another very nice trail over Hanaga Pass between T42 & tonight's inn. The sign on the trail head said the trail was closed but we walked it anyhow and it was wonderful.

A few pictures.

The view from the climb to Hanaga Toge.

1,000 folded paper cranes.

A shrine dedicated to farm animals.

A statue I liked.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Day 17: Mishō to Tsushima

It was sunny and warm down at sea level, but got cold as i walked over Kashiwazaka Pass this morning. Top of the ridge was in the clouds.

As I started the climb i saw this sign posted by the trail head.

The sign near the top is the typical henro trail marker. The big red sign says "No playing here, it is dangerous!"

Forced me to stop and consider what I was doing, but I climbed anyhow and the trail was fine. Some kind of joke?

On the way down I found an older woman sitting in front of an old building, or shack might be more accurate, in a small clearing.  She was surrounded by sticks of wood and had one propped up in front of her that she had obviously been sawing on. She must have been on a break when I got there because the two saws were sitting on a table by her side.

Our conversation was short but looped through the same sequences several times. The weather has cleared today, hasn't it. Yesterday it rained pretty hard. Tomorrow it is supposed to clear up. Where are you staying tonight? Where are you from? And from here she looped back to The weather has cleared today, hasn't it. And continued until the next loop started again.

She wasn't talking to herself because she waited for me to answer after each statement/question, during each of the loops.

I wonder what a life like that would be like. Where the only thing that matters is yesterday's, today's, and tomorrow's weather, and where the henro who happens to pass through your compound on that day is spending the night. When life slows down to the speed of your saw. I think I lead a pretty simple life but hers makes mine look incredibly complex.

Some pictures from today.

The power stones that bring the kami (gods) down to ensure this field's crops are prosperous

Here's how they grow at least some of their mushrooms in Japan. They stack up wood in hot & humid forests and the mushrooms grow on the logs.

I head for Uwajima tomorrow to meet a friend, who will walk with me through May 2..Wil arrive in Matsuyama on the 3rd. Then all that's left is the walk along the top of the island.

The schedule is still tight but it's looking better with each day of 30km under the boots. Especially if today's good weather holds.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day 16: Sukumo to Mishō

I am so tired of rain.

Day 15: Shimonokae to Sukumo

Started out cloudy as i headed north on Prefectural Highway 21 through the first valley that wokld take me to Temple 39. After about an hour, though, the clouds burned off and it was a hot and sunny 25° (77°F) day. 

It was a beautifil walk and now my favorite part of the trail, excepting several off road trails, of course.

As i got closer to the village of Mihara, the mountains right next to the road were replaced by bigger views and rice paddies much bigger than the standard size. 

... including this one with grandma out walking through the paddy replanting seedlings that hadn't survived.

A small Shinto shrine along the route.

And finally, the Daishi Hall at Temple 39, the first temple on the way back to Temple 1. 

For me, Temple 38 is the half way point. Until there, you are going south and west away from where you started. From Temple 38 and Cape Ashizuri, you are headed north and east--back towards home.

It's interesting, but i'm finding that the temples are of no intetest to me this walk. I stop, and usually chant the Heart Sutra, but they are only rest areas until i head back out on the trail again.

Weather reports are calling for heavy rains tomorrow. :-)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Day 14: Cape Ashizuri to Shimonokae

Late leisurely start this morning. Was out on the road at 7:45 and even though today was supposed to be a rain free day, it started within an hour. Not hard enough to force me into rain gear, but enough to keep me under an umbrella all morning.

With no reason to linger, i was back in Shimonokae at 1:15 so i found a coffee shop and killed some time before checking back into Anshuku for the afternoon/night.

Only took a few pictures today.

A panorama from the Ashizuri side of Ōki no hama (the opposite direction from yesterday's picture). My destination is about the middle of the line of hills across the bay.

Ōki no hama from ground level. I cut across the beach to miss about 1 km of road i would have covered walking around it.

Some other pictures.

Another trail picture.

A building desperately in need of a shave.

A graveyard for old fishing nets.

Tomorrow is 32 km to Temple 39. Weather says it should rain, but there's no surprise there.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 13: Shimonokae to Cape Ashizuri

Left Anshuku, last night's lodging, at 7:00. After a stop at a convenience store for a snack to eat atound 9:00, i headed south to cover the 28 km to Ashizuri Misaki.

Started out cloudy, but the rains showed up at 10:30 and the rest of the day has stayed that way.

Found a bench for the snack at 9:00, then later met a guy from New Zealand who told me about a small restaurant in Kubotsu where i could get coffee and toast. About a half hour later i met a guy from France who told me the exact same thing so i decided i needed to check it out. 

Found the port town and the coffee shop an hour later.

Had my coffee and toast and set out for the final push to the cape. A little later, and of course a little higher, i realized i had left my walking stick at the restaurant.

When i realized it, i had just passed a crew out working on some power lines, or something. They were on a break when i passed them so when i turned around suddenly and headed back again they asked what was wrong. When i told them what i had done they told one of the crew members to take the second truck and drive me back to get it. I gladly accepted the offer and saved the ~50 minutes it would have taken to do the round trip walk 

Even with the morning snack, the coffee break at the restaurant, and the trip back to get my walking stick, i still got to Temple 38 at 12:30 so i killed about 2 hours before checking into the hotel just before 3:00.

Ashizuri Town, with the Pacific Ocean on the left, from my hotel:

Will head back to Anshuku again tomorrow and then on Tuesday i head west to Temple 39.

Some pictures from today.

A panorama of Ōki no Hama, a pretty famous beach around here, and Cape Ashizuri on the far left beyond the bay

A series of shots from a nice trail i followed:

With the ropes installed along several of the short decents because of slippery rocks & moss.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Day 12: Kuroshio Town to Shimonokae

Beautiful day. Sunny in the morning, clouds showed up around noon, and it started to drizzle at 1:30. Began pouring after 4:00, but i was already in my room. They are saying we should expect rain some time during the day every day until Thursday. :-(

Breakfast tomorrow morning then a short(ish) 24 km down the coast to Temple 38. Could get there as early as noon, so i'll need to slow down or figure out where to sightsee adter visiting the temple.

Met a woman ftom the Netherlands at dinner tonight. She's doing the walk with almost no Japanese language abilities. That always impresses me.

Some pictures from today.

A beach many kilometers long, and with either hundreds or thousands of surfers today.

Sprnt a good portion of the morning in this type of area. Rice paddys, dry farming, and small communities.

Some paddys not yet planted, but flooded and almost ready to plant.

And many/most already planted with the birds looking for bugs for lunch.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Day 11: Kubokawa to Kuroshio Town

Another 30 km under the boots and i'm in a small ocean-side hotel about half way down the coast ftom Kōchi City to Cape Ashizuri. Near the Ariigawa Train Station.

A panorama of the view from my room:

Spent almost all morning inland walking from valley to mountain pass to valley to mountain pass. Nothing serious, but a day of constant ups and downs.

Somewhere around noon I got to the coast again and spent the afternoon walking along the ocean.

When i made my reservation here the other day, the woman told me i could pay either 6,500 yen or 7,300 yen. The difference is in the food you get. I asked what she recommended, knowing full well she would choose the higher amount, but all she said was that the food would be delicious. I took her advice and told her i would pay the 7,300 yen---and she was right; tonight's dinner was one of the best i've ever had on Shikoku!

When i checked in to the hotel, the woman told me that the bath would be heated and ready to use at 3:30. I could use it at anytime after that. At 4:15 i went downstsirs snd asked if i could use it, and when told "Yes, of course," i asked where it was. To which i got the reply, "In your room, of course." I.E., the "bath" is the unit bath/shower in my room, just like in all hotel rooms. 

Just thought i'd share a scene that only henro could really appreciate. A bench in front of a convenience store where all henro wiil certainly stop to take a break and eat lunch. The sign is covered by someone's hakui (the white over-vest we wear) but it actually says that the bench is a "henro rest area."

One more day tomorrow walking without getting to Temple 38. But tomorrow gets me close enough that i'll get there on Sunday.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Day 10: Susaki City to Kubokawa City

Absolutely nothing to say today other than rain, rain, Rain, RAin, RAIn, RAIN, and even more and even harder **RAIN**.

And it rained, as well. 

Rain gear and umbrella kept me dry from the ankles up, but my boots were soaked and it was like i walked in puddles all day.

Tomorrow is supposed to be dry again but right now (5pm) it is pouring cats & dogs outside.

Tomorrow also begins the 3 day trek down to Temple 38, which is the next temple i get to visit. It will be three longish days on the road.

Some thoughts: i just looked at the schedule of my 1999 walk and see that after getting to Temple 37 i returned to Temple 1 five weeks later. This trip i have four weeks left before i have to finish. 

Even taking out a day needed for Bangai Temple 7 and another day for Bangai 20, i still have several days i need to mske up or i will have to use a bus for some of the finsl temples. Only time will tell.

Day 9: Usa City to Susaki City

Long day, but beautiful weather. Woke to this view from the hill above Temple 36.

After dropping down the hillside and passing the stairs ip to the temple ...

...the  morning was spent walking along the coast of a long, long inland bay....

...where i found this luxury houseboat out of the water. Maybe for repairs?

After passing through a tunnel, 

It was back to walking inland, passing one little farming conmunity after another.

Got to Susaki City a little early so i stopped just short of the inn and got my hair cut. The first shop told me no and went back to watching TV. The second shop not only said OK, but cut my hair, washed it, and gave me a complere shave -- including my forehead and the bridge of my nose. :-)

Off to Temple 37 tomorrow.