2019-04-19: Okunoin night tour

Last night I went on the Okunoin night tour. I learned all kinds of interesting facts and really enjoyed it.

The Okunoin is the largest graveyard in Japan and very sacred. There are over 200,000 graves above ground and they don’t know how many below ground.

The trees are a protected forest and all have a number tag on them.

See if you can see the tag on the trees.

I learned that in the newest part many companies have a tomb where workers can come and pray for their ancesters or fellow deceased co-workers.

There is one for a coffee supplier. See the UCC coffee cups.

There is one for Nissan.

There is one with pictures of some of the employees.

There is one with stickers on it. Looks like they might have been a cartoonist.

Then there was one with a rocket which we were told on the tour was for a Japanese space company.

Some had Buddhas and some we’re interesting but not sure what the company was.

I was impressed at the Ekoin temple (where the tour started) they had an electric car charging station.

In the morning I was up early and went to the 6 am morning ceremony.

Since I was up early I walked to the temple and waited by the Kobo Daishi tomb. As I said there a little old man (hunched over) wearing a black robe arrived to light a candle and say a prayer. For a minute I thought Kobo Daishi had come to join me.

After the morning ceremony I walked back to where I was staying for my 8 am breakfast.

2019-04-17/18: Osaka shopping and making arrangements to get to Koyasan

After a good sleep I headed off to Namba station to get the special two day rail/bus pass for Koyasan. I decided to take the 10 am limited express train which would get me in Koyasan around 11:30 am.

The scenery on the train ride was beautiful looking down the valley below.

It was nice to visit Kobo Daishi tomb and get my final stamp. It was a beautiful day and the walk through the Okunoin was impressive. Here are some photos:

Here is a picture to the temple bridge. After the bridge photos are prohibited because it is a sacred site.

The was one tomb where on ohenro hat was hanging in memory of a nun.

A nice day to explore Koyasan. Tonight I will do the night tour of the Okunoin and up at 5 am to go to the 6 am morning ceremony, since it takes about 40 minutes to walk to the temple.

2019-04-16: On my way to Koyasan via Osaka

After a nice sleep and breakfast at the hotel, I caught the bus to Osaka on my way to Koyasan.

It was nice to sleep in, have a relaxing breakfast and morning shower. The bus ride to Osaka was great. It was a bus with only three seats per row. A window seat, aisle, center seat, another aisle, and other side window seat. It makes it more comfortable.

I wanted to take a photo but thought some of the other passengers and driver might object. I did manage to try to take a couple photos of the scenery as we drove on the bridges and islands between Shikoku and the mainland.

Tomorrow I will head off to Namba to arrange for my train ticket and two day Koyasan pass.

2019-04-15: Day 32 – Back to Temple 1

Breakfast was at 6 am. After breakfast the owner of the minshuku drove Masa, Marie-Claude and myself to catch the community bus for the Shido train station. Marie-Claude and myself then took the limited express train to Tokashima.

The owners mother who is 87 helps out. She is a dear and enjoy her presence. Here is her picture she let me take before leaving:

In Tokashima I took Marie-Claude to the bus terminal to get her ticket for Osaka and I booked mine for tomorrow.

I then had a nice matcha latte green tea at Starbucks before heading off to Bando station to walk back to Temple 1.

Being back at Temple 1 was kind of surreal. There were a couple bus groups there and I joined into the Heart Sutra with them. When I went to get the completion stamp from Temple 1 he gave me a nice bracelet as osettai for completing the pilgrimage and coming back to Temple 1.

I sat at the temple for a bit reflecting on my pilgrimage journey this time, the many ohenros I met and kind Japanese people. Here are some pictures with many ohenros in white as they start their 88 Temple pilgrimage.

I then took the train back to Tokashima to check in the hotel at 16:00 hours.

Along the way there were some wonderful signage to guide you to the temple.

There were this wonderful bunch of Irises along the way that caught my eye.

At the Tokushima station there were some interesting characters to greet me.

After I checked in I met with David Moreton for tea and chatted about my ohenro experience.

Tomorrow I am off to Osaka to make plans for my trip to Koyasan.

2029-04-14: Day 31 – Temple 88

Today was the trek to Temple 88. The final temple of the pilgrimage. After a nice breakfast at 6 am, chatting with other ohenros, I headed out around 7 am, before the forecasted rain was suppose to start at 8 am. I enjoyed taking my time looking at the gardens and flowers along the way.In the gardens, I see many daicon still in the ground with the tops cut off. A while back I asked and was told they cut the tops off to stop it from growing and leave it in the ground. Daicon is like a radish and you find it in many dishes in Japan, pickled, and shredded under sashami we can eat raw. Here is a picture of it in the garden with the daicon with the tops cut off.As I was walking Naba (my Japanese twaiwanese friend, who I found out today, is actually called Masa), caught up to me, so we walked together to the Henro museum to get our certificate and pin. Here is his picture and my picture:We are now proud ohenro-sans. At the museum they have a nice Shikoku island model with all the temples.Since it started to rain, I contemplated on taking the community bus to Temple 88, but decided to walk with Masa instead. It was a nice walk up the mountain road route. We were advised because of the rain to not do the mountain climb in the rain. Along the way we stopped at a nice rest stop for a break.We were lucky, it never really rained, only small drops every once in awhile.When we arrived at Temple 88, we met up with ohenros from France/ Hong Kong and Denmark. We went to the local restaurant by the temple for a congratulatory lunch.I had a nice katsudon meal, which is breaded pork deep fried, with egg on rice.It was a nice feeling to share one’s experiences over lunch and achieving our pilgrimage goal.I liked the many statues that were for sale in the restaurant shop.As we headed off to the minshuku it started to rain harder. Kobo Daishi was definitely with us during our walk today. So glad the rain held off til we were finished.At the minshuku, I was able to do laundry, take a nice bath and have a nice dinner with special red bean rice, as our congratulatory dinner. It was nice spending time with ohenro friends. Marie-Claude from Montreal was able to join us.Again I enjoyed Marie-Claude’s story about getting lost and hitch hiking. An older man stopped and ended up driving her to the temple. We laughed over her story and how the Shikoku experience affects us.Tomorrow the minshuku owner will drive us to the bus stop, which will take us to the train station, where we will head back to Tokushima.

2019-04-13: Day 30 – Temples 84, 85, 86 & 87

Enjoyed the onsen last night at at 6 am this morning. As I was dropping off my key, who was at the check out counter but Marie-Claude from Montreal. She was getting them to make a booking for her for tonight. I am so glad and thankful Masa was able to make my bookings from Canada before I left. It makes it so much easier.

Since we were taking the train we walked together to the local train station.

Since Marie-Claude already did temple 84 yesterday, I got off before her to do my climb to Temple 84. It was a nice day, so made the climb and view nice. Since it was Saturday there were many non-ohenro also walking up to Temple 84.

Here is a picture of the statues and Tori gates at the temple.The view before the climb down was beautiful.I had to climb down and back up the mountain in the picture.There is a tram car that will take you up the last part of the climb, which I opted for. They give a 50% discount for foreigners who show their passport.Here are some pictures of Temple 87 with cherry blossoms still in bloom and a Japanese pine tree being groomed to grow a certain way.Today was a day of osettai. When I was lost trying to find the local train station, this little older lady came after me and explained where it was. She then gave me a paper with a note as osettai. Later I checked and it had 1000 yen note inside. Then at Temple 87, there was a bus group of ohenro. A lady broke away from the group and gave me an envelope (which I discovered later had 2000 yen in it). I gave her a Canadian flag pin and crest. We exchanged nameslips. Here is a picture of the osettai I received today.The kindness and generosity of the Japanese is truly amazing.

I checked into my minshuko, which is next to Temple 87, had my bath and ready for 6 pm dinner. They have WiFi so get to work on my blog before dinner.

Tomorrow is on to Temple 88, which is hard to believe. I am still trying to decide which route to take, the big Henro-korogashi hard climb or an old country road, which is a more gentle climb. I will see what the weather brings…….forecast says intermittent rain.

So will sign off for now. Another great day on the ohenro trail.

2019-04-12: Day 29 – Temples 80 & 83

Last night and this morning the view from the hotel was beautiful. It was a sunny day as I started out for my walk wondering what adventure or other ohenros I will meet along the way.

The walk along the mountain top plain was beautiful with lots of sakura still blooming in the mountains.

The walk down the mountain was grueling on the knees. At one of the rest stop there was a nice view.

There were a couple statues I like at Temple 80.

I then took the train into Takamatsu. I thought I would drop by my accupunture ohenro friend I met before to say hi, if I could figure out where he was.

At the Takamatsu train station there was my favorite bakery called “Willie Winkie” in the station and a nice town clock outside.

I was able to find my way to my accupunture ohenro friend but looked like he was closed for the day.

I then headed off to Temple 83. On my way I saw a few Barber shops. I looked in one and he wasn’t busy, so I got up the nerve to go in and see if he would cut my hair, as I like it short when I am sweating, and it has grown these last few weeks. As well, I thought I would support the local business. I got the ok and I explained #1 on the side and half off the top. He understood as we spoke broken English and Japanese and sign language.

He did an amazing job. I like the hot towel treatment and it only cost 2000 yen, about $20 Canadian. I thanked him with a Canada flag pin. So today’s theme was haircut day.

Here are a few photos from Temple 83, statues, colours and trees.

A nice day walking. I ran into a couple ohenro but none that I knew from before.

I was able to check into the onsen I am staying at and looking forward to a nice relaxing Japanese onsen tonight.

Tomorrow will be a couple climbs to the temples.