Thursday, October 6, 2016 – Temples 14 – 19 (Jorakuji, Kakurinji, Kannonji, Idoji, Onzanji & Tatsueji)

The morning started out wonderful. We thought we were told the morning prayer service was 6 am. Woke up early. Since there were just a thin sliding door between our rooms, Bob asked if “the tea was on” around 4:30 am. So we started our morning tea ritual on talking how the day went and our plans or change of plans for the day due to the weather.

This morning the topic was on spiritual awakening and snakes. A couple days ago Bob encountered a snake on the path as it slivered quickly away. When we saw a dead orange and brown one on the road I said poisonous snake. Bob said “How do you know?”. I said all snakes are guilty (poisonous) until proven innocent in my books since I don’t know. I showed him my Google results of the three poisonous ones – one was brown, one green and one orange with brown stripes.Bob said it was the green one. Today we saw another orange with brown stripe one dead on the road. Just glad he had a close encounter with a car and not us.

As we started to pack to get ready for the 6 am morning service there was a Japanese announcement at 5:30 am ( of which we didn’t understand). There was this look of fear and “what’s going on?” on Bob’s face. I said, just grab your stuff and let head for the temple. The good thing is there are inside walkways to the Temple main hall. The temple door was open, the candles were lit, but only us showed up. So we looked around and got a short chair and waited about 15 minutes by ourselves. We spent the time meditating, which I think helped calm Bob down from the sudden change in plans. About 15 minutes later there were gongs to alert people to come. Too late, we were already there.

The morning service was great. The head monk was a lady from Korea. The chanting was so soothing.

After the service, Bob and I lit a candle for Teshin from the Bodhi. Out of the many candles, I asked the head monk which one would be appropriate. There was a group photo afterwards followed immediately by breakfast. The head monk chatted with everyone at breakfast. It was like a family reunion. What a wonderful way to start the day.

We finished our packing and headed out. Bob almost left his walking stick (which we call Kobo Daishi) as it represents the two of us walking together – you and Kobo Daishi. Lucky we hadn’t left the temple yet. The temple lady who was cleaning the insense holder got a chuckle out of these two foreigners trying to get our act together to leave.

Ok, enough writing, time for some photos. Today we visited six Temples, so here are some of the photos highlights.

Here is a photo of Temple 14 – Jorakuji, which is built on lava rock. When I was leaving there was a little old man with his daughter taking him around. It reminded me of my father. I gave them both a Canada flag pin and the smile on their faces was priceless.

At Temple 15 – Kokubunji we met this wonderful ohenro from Taiwan. He came up to Bob and asked if his knee was ok (as he was wearing a strap on it). In the picture notice what he is wearing on his feet. Yes, traditional Japanese straw sandles. That’s it. And he plans to do the whole pilgrimage (1200 km) in them. I will never complain about a small blister again. He was a calligrapher and showed us some of his calligraphy he was doing at each temple. He said his English was not good but we must come visit him in Taiwan as his wife speaks better English.

Here is another photo of Temple 15 bell and nicely groomed trees on the left.

At Temple 16 – Kannonji, the stamp lady gave me some red bean and apple treat as osettai. I gave her one of my ohenro crests I had made. I really like the statue next to stamp office.

Here is a picture of Temple 17 – Idoji. At Idoji, there was a small gift shop in front of the main temple. Yeah, I was finally able to buy a new official ohenro shoulder bag to carry my valuables in, since I broke the strap on my waist pouch bag. I am looking forward to transferring stuff to it this evening. I said to Bob, I need to have a fire ceremony at the Temple to burn the old one. It was time to let it go. If I was back in Canada I could maybe fix it, but it served me well during my last pilgrimage, so time to “let it go”.

To save some time we took the train part way to Temple 18 – Onzanji. I liked these statues on the way down the stairs from the main temple at Temple 18.

On the way to Temple 19 – Tatsueji we got to walk thru a bamboo forest. Here is a picture of Bob walking thru the bamboo forest.

We arrived at Temple 19 in time to have a bath and attend the 17:00 hour evening service, which was followed by supper. Here is a picture of the Kobo Daishi statue at Temple 19, who founded Shingon Buddhism in Japan, of which the Shikoku pilgrimage you get to visit 88 of his Temples. There are many more around Japan, and last time I got to stay at one in Fukui, which was a wonderful experience. You can read my previous blog about it.

Tomorrow will be two big climbs to Temple 20 and 21. We are planning an early start. Not sure if our body is ready for two more big climbs. We will let you know….