The Usa Peninsula area where we stayed at the minshuku is beautiful and peaceful. Our hike down to Temple 36 (Shoryuji) gave us epic vistas of the bay and it looks like a perfect place for families to go on vacation to, although not too built up or busy. The temple is named after Kukai’s teacher of Shingon Buddhism who he studied under in Shoryuji, China.
From the temple we had to backtrack and go back over the huge bridge to walk the next 23 km to the town of Susaki. From there it would be another 37 km.
Along the shoreline walk we stumbled upon a little pizzeria on the waters edge with a full-on brick pizza oven. It was around lunch time so we had to stop.
The rest of the journey to Temple 37 included punishing road walks past bays, farms, villages, towns, industries, through numerous road tunnels .... on and on for back breaking distances and by the way, we’re still in Kochi Prefecture which seems like it will never end. When will we reach the enlightenment stage I wonder? Or will we ever get there?
We’ve had at least four different people handing us citrus fruits as ossetai which always came at very welcome moments.
Other observations have included admiring the bird life here. Sea hawks are everywhere, crows, ravens, cranes and ducks to name a few. Every inch of vacant and available land is used to grow food and it seems that most people have a veggie garden attached to their homes. Another thing we’ve noticed is that everyone seems to have a nice car! There is also a frustrating lack of garbage bins anywhere. We have no idea where people put their rubbish and end up walking for miles and miles with our rubbish to find a place to properly dispose of it.
In every single town we’ve walked through, there are megaphones erected on poles in the middle and at 7am, noon and 5 pm a loud song gets played to indicate those times of the day. We leave our backpacks unattended at temples without fear of our stuff being stolen which is amazing. We had to learn this level of trust.
Finally we got to Shimanto Town late at night and went to Temple 37 (Iwamotoji) were we asked the elderly caretaker lady whether there was any Tsuyado (free Henro accommodation). She gladly took us to a storage garage which had a cot bed and is intended for this purpose. We pitched our tent in the room which had a locked door.... all safe and sound.
I came across this which is really quite wonderful:
Seven Gifts Needing No Wealth
- Look upon others with kindness
- Smile to others when you meet
- Speak to others with kind words
- Offer to others those free services you are capable of offering.
- Offer your heart to others
- Surrender your seat or similar location to those that could better use them.
- Offer your own lodging to others in need.
Day 17: The temperature gauge read 3 degrees C when we got onto the temple grounds at 7am. The sound of drumming from the Shinto temple next door permeated the air. Fortunately there happened to be free Wi-Fi at the noukyosho office and when I looked on social media briefly, a few of my friends had sent me information about the level 3 travel advisory saying that all US citizens are advised to go home. We’re in the middle of nowhere and it’s Saturday. Hawaiian Airlines has discontinued their phone number due to being overwhelmed and we can’t get hold of them. I sent them an email 2 days ago asking for advice regarding return flights and have not received a reply. What a strange new reality we dare living in due to Covid-19!
Dreadknot and I decided to change our adventure plans and hopped on a train to Nakamura Town where we could catch a bus to Temple 38. He is plotting a train and bus route that will get us through the second half of the 88 Temples quickly while we try to figure out how we’re going to get home sooner.
This adventure has changed from a slow hiking challenge to an amazing race...