A train, a bus and some walking took us to the most southwesterly point of Shikoku Island to Temple 38 (Kongofukuji). It is believed that you can set off for the land of paradise from here. The Ashizuri point where the temple is located is absolutely beautiful and the Temple itself has immaculate gardens with a beautiful pond. So much inspiration for the garden I want to create in the future. Another 2 bus rides got us to Temple 39 (Enkoji). An eye washing well which is claimed to cure eye illnesses is present on the grounds. There is a statue of a turtle with a red bell on its back which represents the legend that such a turtle came there from the ocean in years gone by.
As we stood in the temple grounds, we realized that this was the last temple in Kochi Prefecture and the end of the “ascetic training “ phase of the journey. The next phase in Ehime Prefecture is the “enlightenment phase”. One concept we discussed between ourselves was the principal of “ suffering is caused by craving and clinging to worldly things”, so we have decided not to cling to the idea of completing our adventure at this time. We can always come back and complete it when the world is more at ease.
The practical implications are that currently we are on the furthest point of the island from where we need to be to get to the airport. Our plan is to catch buses tomorrow which will bypass 3 other temples... so we will stop off at those and then hop on a train across Shikoku to Tokushima followed by a 3 hour bus to the airport and hopefully get onto a flight home. We already know that we’ll have to spend two weeks in quarantine there once we arrive back.
Tonight we stay in a Ryokan (hostel type accommodation) next to Temple 40.
Strange times indeed!