2019-03-31: Day 17 – Temples 39 and 40

After a restful night, I headed off early to Temple 39, by train and by walking. Although it was a sunny day with a few clouds, the wind was bitterly cold when walking to Temple 39. It was hard to decide what layers to wear to keep warm but not sweat to much. I had to wear my feather down light weight cap, as the wind was so cold on my head and ears.

Even though the wind was cold, I came across this “sea of pink” flowers, near Temple 39, which made the cold morning walk worth it. It really brightened up my day and made me realize just to be thankful to be able to enjoy such beauty.Yesterday, I was suffering from a sore throat and couldn’t stop coughing along with a stuffy and running nose. I realized this morning that it was probably a mild cold from getting a chill a few days ago from the cold wind. I did some gargling with salt water and used Vick’s cough drops I brought. Last night I brought some other gargle stuff and used my Google translator to try to translate how to use it. I assumed it was for sore throat by the picture on the box. It seems to help. My sore throat has seemed to move down into my chest, so will take it easy today.The cherry blossoms at Temple 39 were very beautiful.The morning train was decorated with colorful paintings, which also helped brighten up the day.As the day went on, I thought it would warm up, but it didn’t. Here are some pictures of Temple 40.As I was putting on another layer (my Merino wool pullover) under my white ohenro jacket at Temple 40, a nice lady came up to me and said in English “Welcome to Japan” and handed me 500 yen. Before I could thank her properly she disappeared.

When I was getting my book stamped the monk was telling me of one of the passes that was closed and afterwards came outside to ask me where I was from.

As I waited for the bus to Uwajima, this little old lady came saundering down the street, pulling a bag on wheels. I was amazed how the traffic slowed down and went around her. I thought for sure she was going to get hit by a car. After I saw her check the bus schedule, I realized she was taking the bus and greeted her with konichiwa, I saw her check her watch and I think she said the bus was late ( by only a minute in my estimate), but to her it was late. I helped her lift her large bag with wheels on to the bus.

I was able to check into the hotel ok. It is a nice hotel connected to the train station. Here is a picture.All in all, a good day even though my nose was running from the cold and still had a bit of a cough.

2019-03-30: Day 16 – Temple 38

Breakfast was after the 6 am morning ceremony in the temple.

Today was a rest day, as I decided to take train and bus to Temple 38. When we arrived at the Kubokawa station and was waiting for the train, there were other ohenro that arrived. One was Joseph, who was from Mumbai, India, where he owns a Japanese restaurant. He was traveling with a Japanese friend, Nobu, from Tokyo. I told Joseph I had visited India and asked if he knew of Sai Baba in Puttiparti. He said yes he did. I told him I had stayed there with a friend from Ottawa.

When Linda asked Joseph why he was doing the pilgrimage, he said he had a dream he was with Sai Baba who told him he would take a pilgrimage, which was a circle. When he searched the pilgrimage of the world, he found the Shikoku pilgrimage went in a circle, so decided to do it. He did up to Temple 31 last time and came back to continue the pilgrimage with Nobu.

When the train arrived it was very colorful.

Here is a picture of Joseph, Linda an Nobu on the train.

Here is one with another Japanese ohenro we met.

When we arrived at Nakamura station, we had to wait for the bus. Good things ohenro all have smartphones, as we are busy checking things on them. What would we do without smartphones.

Here is a map of the area we traveled down to Temple 38 – at the Ashizuri coast.

It was a little overcast when we arrived at the temple. However, the rain held off, and I got a chance to visit the temple.

Linda and I went to a local restaurant to grab a bite to eat, before catching the bus back to Nakamura station.

Today was basically a rest day with not much walking, pretty well all by train and bus.

Tomorrow will be back to walking.

I was able to check in my room at the hotel and get a non-smoking room, which was great.

2019-03-29: Day 15 – Temple 37

After crashing last night after dinner, I was up this morning around 4:30 am. My leg muscles are a bit sore from the long walk yesterday, but after a nice shower and little stretching they are not screaming at me as much as when I got up.

Today is an easier day, only about 14 km. After 6:30 am breakfast the hotel had a shuttle bus at 6:50 am, which took us to catch the 7:10 am ferry.

The ferry cuts off a large amount of walking today and it goes along different stops along the inland bay. You get to see things from a water perspective. Being a NS Mariner, it is nice to see things from the water and reminded me of trips out in Kevin’s (my younger bro) cape cod boat when I visit Nova Scotia.When we arrived at the ferry there were nine of us on the boat. I took the opportunity to give each of them one of my ohenro crests.

When we got off the small ferry boat, there was a line of us walking. Last night’s dinner at Sanyo-so was amazing. Here is a picture of Linda admiring her dinner, as we try to figure out where to start first. So many dishes.

Of course there were many trees in blossoms, which I just had to take some photos. I love the beautiful cherry blossoms blending in with the Japanese architecture.

Since I had some extra time, I decided to lighten my pack and send a parcel back home. It was a lesson in humility, as I used Google translate to explain what I wanted to do. After buying a small box for 100 yen, I was able to fill it with a kilogram of stuff, which meant one less kilogram I had to carry. I thanked her for her patience and help by giving her a Canadian flag pin at the end. When I arrived at Temple 37, I can safely report that Marilyn Munroe is still alive and well in one of the ceiling panels that were painted by local residents.

The highlight of my day was when one of the guys that was on the ferry asked if he could sing a mantra prayer for me in the temple. Off we went to the temple and he did an amazing job singing the mantra. This is one of the things about this pilgrimage, it amazes me the people you meet and how they share their kindness.

After relaxing at the temple, I checked in. There was a beautiful Japanese pottery vase in the alcove of my room which I liked but would be way too heavy to carry.

2019-03-28: Day 14 – Temples 34, 35 & 36

After a nice stay in a hotel overlooking the ocean, I headed off for Temple 34. I enjoyed my evening at the Kokumin-shukusha Katsurahama-so. The dinner was excellent. I had katsudon. I am thankful my ohenro friend from Koichi was able to call and make the booking.

Today was another day with lots of cherry blossoms. As well, it was a day of bridges and a tunnel. Here is a close up of the cherry blossoms that just filled up the tree.

I arrived early at Temple 34. Here are a few pictures of the temple and statues.

It was a cloudy day in the morning, but a nice temperature for walking.

On the way to Temple 35, I passed a rice seedling distribution centre, where the rice farmers were loading up there white trucks with the flats of rice seedlings ready to do their planting.

I am always amazed at how Japan has embraced solar energy, as there are solar panels everywhere, on house roof tops, on factories, on vacant land. I think Canada could learn allot from Japan, and support more solar or wind green energy, instead of the Ontario government stopping the development of wind power, only because the previous government was developing it. Sorry for the ranting, but sometimes I wish Canada had the same vision as Japan. Here is a solar array designed to move with the sun to get maximum output of power.

The sakura on the way to Temple 35 was amazing.

Along with the view from Temple 35.

On the trail up to Temple 35 there were more interesting statues.

As I mentioned earlier, today was the day of crossing long bridges and a tunnel.

On the way to Temple 36 there were more statues and sakura to admire.

The highlight of my day was meeting a 87 year old ohenro. When I got to Temple 36, I was tired and had to climb so many stairs to get to the temple to do the temple routine and make my prayers. There was this 87 year old ohenro who was very slow at lighting his candle at the main temple. His daughter was helping him but it still took awhile. Instead of waiting I got agitated and went to Kobo Daishi temple and did it in the reverse order as I was too impatient to wait. When I was at the main temple, I saw him at the Kobo Daishi temple, and he reminded me of my dad. I thought “oh my God” why did I let my ego and impatence get the better of me. I thought I could give him a Canadian pins and ohenro badge I made as osettai to make up for my impatience. As I was getting the stuff from my bag, before I knew it, he was on his way down the stairs and he could maneavor them better that me. I had a hard time to catch up to him at the bottom.

I gave him my osettai gifts and he was so happy. After getting my book stamped he was sitting with his wife and he wanted his daughter to thank me. I asked their age and was told he was 87 and his wife was 84. I said I was impressed how well he did at climbing the stairs. I thought of my dad, how he would have rather been out in nature instead of being bed ridden with Parkinson’s. He would have loved to be climbing the stairs.

In reflection, I am truly thankful that this aquaintance, how short it was, made me understand the importance to be humble and not let one’s ego take over and be impatient.

A wonderful way to end the day as I walked to the hotel I admired the sakura and thought how thankful I was to be able to walk today. When they drove by I waved as they disappeared.

On last picture of some statues in front of the hotel.

2019-03-27: Day 13 – Temples 31, 32 & 33

After a nice evening in a beautiful hotel, doing my laundry, enjoying the onsen (hot springs bath), having a wonderful breakfast, I set off for another day. The day started with a short mountain climb to the beautiful Makino Botanical Garden. Today is definitely cherry blossoms (sakura) day. There were so many of the trees in blossoms on the walk up to the Botanical Gardens.As well, there were lots of pansies along the way as usual.This morning there was also the most beautiful sunrise from my window.

At Temple 31, the walk in the temple grounds was so nice with the beautiful moss ground covering. Here are some pictures of the statues and pogoda.

On the way up to Temple 32 there was a beautiful bamboo forest.

The view from the top was stunning.

I really liked the collection of ohenro statues in the stamp office.

Here is a picture of the temple.

At Temple 33 there was a wonderful cherry blossom tree in bloom

It was a wonderful day to walk. Nice and clear, sunny and just the right temperature. I got to walk with my friend Linda again.

As my very last note, at Temple 33, it was interesting to see peas growing in bloom and lots of peas hanging. It will be awhile before I see this in Ottawa.

2019-03-26: Day 12 – Temples 28, 29 & 30

After a good night sleep and relaxing at the onsen I was ready for another full day of walking. It rained last night and was still raining lightly when I headed out at 7 am. It was a bit cool until mid morning, when i finally started to warm up.

Temple 28 had these beautiful statues that I had to just take a picture of.

As well, the cherry blossoms were starting to bloom by the stamp office. It was beautiful with the moss covered garden.

One last picture of the bell from Temple 28 with the nicely groomed shrubs.

Along the way to Temple 29 there were these beautiful pansies I had to take a photo of.

They were beautiful and brightened up my day, as the sun was now shining. The care some local resident took to take the time to plant them was amazing.

Along the way I ran into Linda and spend the rest of the day walking together and having brunch at the 711 convience store.

Along the way there were more statues that caught my attention.

As well as, some cherry blossoms next to a greenhouse. Much of the day was spend walking thru garden areas and greenhouses, which was nice instead of walking along busy roads.

At Temple 29, there were some school kids sitting under the sakura. I thought time to get rid of some of the Canadian pins I was carrying, so asked the teacher if I could give them to the kids. What a delight to see the happy look on their faces and saying thank you in English. One of the highlights for the day for sure.

A couple last pictures of Temple 30 to end the day.

Tonight I stay at the Chres Hotel, which is nice and a wonderful way to spend the night to get ready for tomorrow’s adventure.

2019-03-25: Day 11 – walk to Koichi

I enjoyed sleeping in a western bed last night and have a nice shower in the morning. I slept in and left around 7:45 am, which is a late start for ohenro. This morning I was amazed there was this roaster crowing at 5 am. I thought “am I dreaming”, as it couldn’t be in the city. But sure enough he kept it up until after 7 am.

I had a nice walk along a cycling path, which runs along the coast. It was nice listening to the waves crashing on the shore. Reminded me of Nova Scotia.

Some of the cherry blossom trees are just starting to bloom. It must still be a bit chilly for them. I did find a couple in different stages of bloom.

While walking along the cycling path, who did I see sitting at a rest stop looking out at the beach contemplating life, but Linda from USA. We chatted and had a hot Royal Milk Tea and some of my ginger snacks I purchased the day before at the supermarket. We walked together for the rest of the day and had a nice chat.

Along the way we came across the famous pilgrim rest stop with I am sure, one is an image of Elly from the Netherlands.

There were all kinds or orgami on the tables.

Along the coast, there is this nice restaurant that hangs over the beach area. You can see it just slightly in the upper right corner in the picture below.

I was going to have something light for lunch, but when we saw the pancake dessert, we both said “why not” and slowly enjoyed it while resting our feet.

It was a great treat for all the walking we did today.

Along the way there were these different characters and lots of pansies (Japan’s winter flower).

As well there were a few tsusami evacuation towers, since we were on the coast.

I checked into the hotel and enjoyed a nice relaxing onsen connected to the hotel. I headed off to the Family Mart convenience store and brought a bento box for dinner and some yogurt for breakfast, since my hotel room has a small fridge.

Another great day on the henro trail. Tomorrow is planned for a 22 km walk, so will try to get an early start.

2019-03-24: Day 10 – Temple 27

What a beautiful sunrise this morning sitting by the window enjoying a cup of green tea.

The morning service was wonderful. Last night Naomi helped me fill out a paper in memory of dad. After the service the monk gave us beautiful papers with dad’s name on it that be can be put on the butsadon (I know I probably spelled it wrong) with a picture of the person. I was able to pack it carefully in my pack. I just hope I can get it back to Canada ok.

After a wonderful breakfast I walked back to the bus stop with Naomi who is heading back to Tokyo. She will do the rest of the pilgrimage at another time.

I took the bus/train to the bottom of temple 27 and then did the hard climb up to Temple 27. It was a beautiful day. I decided at the rest hut halfway up the mountain climbs I would leave my day pack behind the washroom. It made the final hard climb much easier. It was there, so was able to pick it up on the way down.

The view from the temple was wonderful. I enjoyed spending time admiring the groomed bushes amongst the mountain rock garden.

Of course what would a temple be without statues.

On the climb up the mountain I ran into Linda who appeared on the road. We caught up on the news of her adventures the day before.

After the hike down the mountain I caught the train to Aki where I was staying for the night.

Since I was early for check in I went to the supermarket close to the station. As I was walking to the Business Hotel, Linda reappeared, trying g to find a place to withdraw some cash. After a short catch up on the news, Linda set off to find her accommodations and set off to find mine.

After checking in my went to the Family Mart nearby and purchased a bento box for dinner and yogurt for breakfast.

Tomorrow is a 20km walk along the coast to Koichi. Hope the sunshine holds up.

2019-03-23: Day 9 – Temples 25 & 26

The owner of the hotel said I would be able to see the sunrise from my room and she was right.

It was nice sitting watching and listening to the waves crash on the rocks, watching the sunrise, while enjoying a cup of Japanese green tea. Felt like in paradise. I reflected on all the wonderful ohenros I have met so far, wondering who will reappear today. Sometimes it is like old home week, never knowing those that will appear and disappear (the Buddhist way I figure). I remember when I was studying Buddhism under the 102 year old Roshi in New Mexico, USA, and he asked me the koan (question) “where is Buddha?”. After many futile attempts on my part, I learned from him Buddha is in every person you meet, every sound you hear, every sunrise you watch, every drop of rain you feel, every breath of wind that touches you, every wave you see and hear. Live life to the fullest and you will find Buddha.

I had a wonderful sleep with the sound of the ocean waves on the shore. Yesterday while walking along the shore I found this nice small piece of drift wood and this small smooth stone I liked. I thought of Anna from Denmark and her stone collection, so decided to keep it in honor of Anna.

I like to stay at Temple 26, so today was an easy day of about 12 km, walking along the coast as much as I could. I wanted to stop at the post office to buy some stamps for post cards I want to send to my friends, so it would mean a small detour along the way.

After breakfast, as I was leaving, there was a local tourist representative and a couple of people. The best I can figure is when I told the owner I was going to take a leisurely walk along the coast path, she must have arranged a local guide to take me on a walking tour. Here is a picture of the three of them (the tour guide is in orange).

Even though I couldn’t understand Japanese I could get the gist of what she was explaining as she had a binder with pictures. I enjoyed her explanation about the Akou tree that grows around a large rock, so it has an anchor to survive typhoon winds.

It has a flower and produces small figs which are edible. They look like this:

She explained how the rock formations were pushed up from the two plates, which made some interesting shapes. Here is a picture of the lighthouse and statue followed by a map of Cape Muroto.

The walk to Temple 25 along the coast was fantastic. Here are some pictures of temple 25.

At Temple 25 I ran into Naomi, who said she was staying at Temple 26 tonight.

The walk to Temple 26 was nice. I took my time. Of course along the trail up the mountain there are statues and I just had to take a picture.

At Temple 26 they have a building where you can rest run by the local community, where they serve steamed sweet potato, pickled diacon, and sliced cucumber. Here is a photo of a group that dropped by. The woman in the middle is one of the community volunteers that run it.

As I was waiting there to check in to Temple 26 accommodations I was able to write the postcards I brought outside temple 25. After I brought the postcards, she asked if I had postage. I said no and she gave the postage as osettai. What a sweetheart, the little old lady was. She appreciated when I gave her a small Canadian flag pin.

The view from the room was amazing of the coastline.

I was able to do a load of laundry and have a bath before dinner. At dinner they mentioned you could fill out a form for the monk at the morning ceremony to say a prayer for a deceased person. Naomi helped me fill one out in memory of dad. She has been like an angel always willing to help out in any way.

Here is a picture of my room wall, which I liked.

At the little gift shop I was surprised to find pamphlet in English about efforts being made to make the Shikoku 88 Temple pilgrimage a world heritage designation.

Another wonderful day with sunshine and the fellowship of fellow ohenros. As usual I hit the sack as soon as I finish my blog entry. Sorry for any typos. Hopefully you can read between the lines. Looking forward to tomorrow.

2019-03-22: Day 8 – Temple 24

After a nice sleep in the Business Hotel I got up early and caught the 7:30 train to Kannoura station. I didn’t quite time it right because when I arrived at Kannoura train station/bus stop, I was told by this nice construction flag worker in English, the next bus to Muroto wouldn’t be until 10 am ( a hour and half wait). I should have slept in and caught the 8:30 train, like Linda and Nanomi we’re planning on doing. I found out later that Nanomi checked, so knew which train to catch. The bus station is under renovation so they have a temporary building where you can wait.

The bus ride was nice and when I got off at my Hotel stop, I went inside and asked if I could leave my bag. The nice man said yes and check in wasn’t til 3 pm, but I could do the check in now and leave my bag. After going thru the check in and paying, I asked this is the Misaki Hotel. He said no, it was the Geo Park Muroto, a nice renovated building into a hotel. He pointed to where Misaki Hotel was. Thank heavens he was kind enough to cancel everything and refund me. I checked later and this hotel doesn’t appear in the Route Guide but it looked very nice.

When I tried to drop off my day pack at Misaki hotel it was locked, so hiked up the mountain to Temple 24 with my day pack. Just as I started the climb, I ran into Linda and Nanomi.

Here are some pictures of temple 24.

There is a stone where if you hot it with a stone it sounded hollow. It is believed that the noise when you hit the rock with a small stone that it will reach the spirits that have passed away. I hot it a few times for Dad.

Here is a picture of Linda and Nanomi.

As I was leaving there was of course Un-gyo and A-gyo in the main gate watching those that enter the temple to scare off evil spirits.

They a fiezdy nio-zo looking statues.

I then walked to see the cave where Kobo Daishi was enlightened. I then waked to the Deep Sea pool and enjoyed the many water jets with the theraputic deep sea water. It was like getting a wonderful massage for you back, shoulder, legs, feet. It felt great.

I then checked into my hotel which has a beautiful view of the ocean with the sounds of the waves. It reminds me of Nova Scotia.

Today basically was an easy day. Tommorow I will do more walking.

Thanks everyone for your kindness and comments and support.

2019-03-21: Day 7 – on to Temple 22 & 23

The forecast is for rain. Here we go again. I will take the ropeway back to Temple 21 and walk down a scenic trail to Temple 22.

The day started off overcast. I took the ropeway back up to Temple 21, thru the mist and clouds with Linda and Anna. We walked the Away Henro trail. When we got to the Kobo Daishi statue Anna was brave and climbed out to Kobo Daishi.

It was a beautiful hike even though it was overcast and only sprinkled rain.

I didn’t take many pictures because of the threatening rain. I was able to take one of the many statues along the trail.

At Temple 23 we met up with Sashin and Susanng from Victoria. It was like old home week. It was very Buddhist where people magically appear and disappear in your life. It was fun to meet and chat with them at breakfast. Here is a picture of the whole gang.

I then walked to the Aratano station with Anna and Linda. We took the train together. I went to Hiwasa with Linda and visited Temple 23 in drizzling rain. I the checked into the Business Hotel after buying a bento box for dinner at the Family Mart. As well I picked up some yogurt and inari for breakfast since there is a fridge in the room. It will be nice to sleep in a western style bed for a change.

2019-03-20: Day 6 – Back to climbing mountains to Temple 20 and 21

The weather forecast on my smartphone called for a sunny day, which will be a nice break from the rain.

Since I didn’t get a chance to take my bath last night before the evening temple ceremony at 4:30 pm and was too tired before going to bed, I decided to take one at 5 am when I was wide awake. Usually you can only take the bath in the evening.

I thought, it is across the hall, has a shower, so as long as they haven’t turned off the hot water (which they do sometimes) let’s give it a try. I was in luck, there was hot water, so was able to take a nice shower, brush my teeth and get ready, just like I was back in Ottawa. I was quiet as a church mouse, to try and not wake up the other two ohenros. Afterwards I felt alive. Amazing how a nice shower in the morning makes one feel alive and ready to face whatever the day has to offer.

Breakfast was at 6:30 am. The staff at Temple 19 was very nice and one of them spoke very good English when explaining how the laundry machines work (as the buttons are in Japanese), where meals were served, where to take a bath, etc.

I had breakfast with Hiro and Ken. Hiro hurt has back when he fell on the climb to Temple 12 a few years ago. He now just visits the temples he likes. He spoke some English so could translate for Ken. It was nice having a morning chat with them.

Here are some of the pictures I took at Temple 20.

On the way down from Temple 20 all of a sudden there was a sharp pain in my right knee when I stepped down. I thought this is not good, so took smaller steps and it seemed to help. I was hoping it wasn’t going to develop in a knee injury. After a while the pain was gone, so I had to go easy on it to be on the safe side.

On the way up to Temple 21, it was so peaceful and the path followed along a crystal clear mountain stream. The sound of the water running and birds singing made it all worthwhile.

Along the trail there were a few statues, which gave an indication you were on an ohenro trail.

When I got to Temple 21 it was so peaceful and made the hard climb worth every penny.

From Temple 21 you could look across the valley to Temple 20.

I took my time enjoying the ambiance of the temple grounds and some of the beautiful statues.

For lunch I found a Royal Milk Tea in the temple vending machine, which I had with my protein biscuts and peanuts.

I was surprised to see some of the bushes and plants in flower. I enjoyed them very much.

While waiting to catch the ropeway down to my accommodation, there were many foreign ohenro who arrived, which I got to meet. There was Anna from Denmark, Peter from Polland, Linda from Virginia, USA, a lady from the Netherlands, who I didn’t catch her name, and the three Canadians from Victoria I met at Temple 13. It was like old home week. A few of us were staying at the same place at the bottom of the ropeway, so will get to see more of them at dinner.

Another wonderful day in the ohenro life. A nice sunny day helped in enjoying the day.

2019-03-19: Day 5 – On to Temple 19

Last night I was awaken by the sound of heavy rain. Little did I know that the rain would continue all day, sometimes very heavy.

The morning temple service was at 5:55 am. After an announcement in Japanese around 5:30, I wondered if the time had changed. However, it must have been a wake up call. After the nice ceremony, breakfast was served. The head monk was from South Korea. She played a message from her son ( who is studying in USA) in English about the history of the temple. She is planning on retiring next year when her son returns who will take over from her as head monk.

I asked if she knew David Moreton and she said he taught her son English for many years.

With the rain still coming down hard I decided to take the train into Tokushima. I then took the train to Chuden station and walked to Temple 18.

The rain never let up all day. As I was slugging up the mountain to temple 18 soaking wet, I thought this was farther then I thought. What a miserable day.

After doing the temple routine with an umbrella in one hand, to try to keep out of the rain, which seemed to be pointless as I was already wet, I did the Arnold abbreviated version.

After getting my book stamped and all dressed to venture to Temple 19 where I was booked to stay, I thought it could be worst. All I had to deal with was being wet. My ego was getting the best if me. I am blessed not to be suffering from some life threatening illness. All I had to deal with was being wet. What is the big deal. After this change in my way if thinking I enjoyed the walk to Temple 19 thru a nice bamboo forest and trying to avoid the puddles. It was like being a child again splashing thru the squishy trail.

I was glad to check in and start the drying out process. They had a laundry machine and dryer I could use “free of charge”. So it ended up being wash day.

Needless to say I didn’t take many pictures. Only took a couple from Temple 19.

The temple ceremony was at 4:30 pm, followed by dinner. There are only three of us staying at Temple 19. One man was good at English and helped explain things to me. During dinner they wanted to watch Suma wrestling, Japan’s national pastime. They explained how it worked

After dinner, and finishing my laundry, I hit the sack. I hope tomorrow is no rain, as I have two mountains to climb to get to two temples.

2019-03-18: Day 4 – Day of Rest followed by some walking

Last night the temperature was -1, and frost was on the ground. In the unheated parts of the minshuko ( like the washroom) it was chilly. There were nine of us that stayed at the minshuku last night. Three ladies from Germany, my two Danish friends (Elsa & Jes) and three Japanese pilgrims. Here is a photo of the minshuku.

I woke up a bit sore, and I felt like I might have strained some leg muscles. As well, I had a bit of a sore throat. So, I decided to catch the bus to Tokushima and soak in the hot springs. Another ohenro joined me on the local community bus, which took you to the bus stop for the bus to Tokushima. I was glad the Japanese ohenro was with me, as I would have never have figured it out.

After arriving in Tokushima I walked to the Aratae Hot Springs and had a relaxing morning enjoying using the salt scrub steam room on my sore feet and muscles. I was surprised it was only 600 yen. Must have been the off peak hour rate.

Around noon I took the train to Kou station where I walked to Temple 17.

I then walk from Temple 17 back to Temple 13. I had to use Google maps on my phone to help me find the way, as I got mixed up using the Route Guide book. Thank heavens for modern smart phone technology.

I was able to make it to Temple 13 around 4 pm, so had enough time to complete the temple rituals, get my book stamped and take some photos. I really liked two of the statues at Temple 13.

Finally when I was getting my book stamped in the office, I like this ohenro figure, so had to take a photo.

I was able to check into temple 13 for my overnight stay. I was glad I opted not to do any mountain climbs today because I think it would have caused some muscles damage as I could hear my muscles screaming at me walking the 10 km I did walk with no mountains to climb.

2019-03-17: Day 3 – The big climb to Temple 12

After a good night sleep, my muscles don’t feel as sore. I am ready for my big climb, up a down three mountains to Temple 12. Breakfast was at 6 am and I started to walk at 6:35 am.

At the start of my climb I got to see a beautiful sunrise.

As well I was struck by these two statues so snapped a picture. The start of the climb is a miniature 88 temple with small buildings with statues in each.

Today was a day of making ohenro connections. Last night I met three ohenro from California. They were doing the ohenro for the first time. There names were Davide (originally from Sicily, not Italy), Joe and Cheyenne. I was able to give them some pointers about places to stay.

Then I have been running into a Japanese couple – Atsu Hiro and Nanomi. He told me he has a son living in Toronto and at Temple 12 showed me the many pictures he took when he visited Toronto. He to me he was seventy plus two. I was amazed how he was able to climb the mountain. He reminded me of my dad who loved to be in the woods.

As I was climbing I met Shu Ho So who was jogging up the mountain. He stopped and asked me where I was from. When I said Canada he told me he had lived in Vancouver for many years and spoke English well. His daughter went to the university of Ottawa. What a small world. One of the things I like is meeting the many people on the ohenro trail.

It was a cold climb and I had to keep putting on layers as the wind was so cold. I made it to Temple 12 before the rain started. While warming up at Temple 12 it started to rain and hail heavily for about an hour. The views during the climbs was amazing.

There were even some cartoon characters along the way to help guide us.

I wondered if it might be pokoman.

After the rain let up I hiked down the mountain to where I was staying. I was glad to have I nice hot bath after I arrived to warm up.

After a wonderful dinner I did this blog entry and early to bed as my muscles are so sore ( in a good way). So far no major muscle problems.

I enjoyed meeting the people today. I found how meeting the people that I have to be thankful for all the wonderful people I have met in my life, be it at work, volunteering, on trips, or where ever. How each person has enlightened my life. I am sure I will met more before my trip is over.

For now I must hit the sack, as my tired body is screaming at me to get some much needed rest.

2019-03-16: Day 2 – Ready for another day….

After a nice soak of my feet in the hot springs bath last night and using my Aveeno cream ( which my mother would use on Dad to help heal his bed sores) my feet feel much better this morning. Ready for the 23 km walk planned for today. I started out early, right after breakfast at 7 am, so I can take my time and have some rests to cool off my feet to help prevent blisters.

Breakfast was nice. I am enjoying the Japanese food.

Had breakfast with Elsa and Jes a Danish couple. They were very nice to talk to and are walking the entire pilgrimage.

As well at breakfast there was a group of ladies who were all wearing these white knitted hats. I commented how nice they were and before I knew it she was giving them away. She reminded me of my mom who use to knit and Mrs Daley, my mother’s next door neighbor, who passed away at 90 years old. The last time I visited her at Christmas she was knitting dish clothes. She was knitting one a day. She gave me a couple. I realized how small tokens of appreciation can mean so much. Here was this older ohenro woman who wanted to give me one she made as osettai. Since you are not supposed to refuse osettai I humbly accepted it. When I started to walk I was thankful the rain had stopped, however, the wind was so strong and cold. My head and ears were freezing. So I said what the heck I am going to wear my new knitted hat. Who cares if people will laugh at me. I needed something to pull over my ears to keep them warm. So I wore it all day. I met her at the next temple and she was so pleased to see me wearing it. I took her picture.

All I can say is, it is the smallest gesture that can go such a long way. I continued to run into her at the temples and she point at me wearing her hat she knitted and smiled. We exchanged nameslips and I gave her one of my crests.

I stopped at a local convenience store and had inari and a bun for lunch with a can of hot Royal Milk Tea.

It was nice to see the trees flowering and the daffodils in bloom

When I stopped to take the last cherry blossom picture a nice lady came out and asked when I was from. We talked about the beautiful sakura starting to bloom. She gave me some candies as osettai.

I made it to Temple 11 and had some time to relax before checking into the Ryokan I am staying at tonight.

After a hot bath, dinner, blog update it was off to bed early to rest this sore body. However, it was a good life and of sore and feeling exhausted.

Back on schedule……

It was a beautiful day in Tokyo. 6 degrees. What a change from -10 in Ottawa. The ANA check in agent was so friendly and was able to find where my booking had been changed by Air Canada.

As I waited to board my plane there were so many ANA planes all lined up.

When I boarded the plane I was surprised it was a B737-800. I thought “oh no”. I was just hoping it wasn’t the same as the B737 max 8 and the pilots were experienced to handle any problems that might occur.

Needless to say it was a great flight. The plane looked relatively new.

Today is my start of the pilgrimage once I arrived in Tokushima I took the bus to the train station and then train to Bando station.

After getting my stamp book and Kobo Daishi walking stick, candles and incense, I was ready. However I felt a little rusty.

Because it was 12 noon and I had to be at Temple 6 by 5 pm to check in, I had to walk faster than I had planned. Here is a picture of temple 1, Ryozenji.

Here are a few other pictures I took.

Along the way the sakura (cherry blossoms) was starting to bloom.

All in all a good day. My legs and feet could sure a nice soak in the wonderful onsen they have.

One last picture of temple 2.

It started to rain near the end of my walk. I have learned the weather can change quickly in Japan.

After a nice dinner and ceremony at Temple 6 I updated this blog and hit the sack. I met a nice couple from Denmark at dinner.

Tommorow is a 23 km day but hopefully I can take it more slowly.

The joys of flying….

Well, as luck would have it, my flight from Toronto to Tokyo was delayed by two hours due to mechanical problems with the aircraft in Toronto, which meant I wasn’t able to catch my connecting flight to Tokushima. Since there were no more flights to Tokushima I had to stay overnight in Tokyo and catch the early morning flight. Oh, the joys of flying.

I have to say the Air Canada ground crew at Haneda airport were very efficient. Since there was also a medical emergency, the flight director told me we almost made an emergency stop in Ankorage Alaska. Since we didn’t, the aircraft had to remain on the tarmac until Japanese health official checked it out and determined we didn’t need to be quarantine.

After they gave the ok, we were bused to the terminal. When we arrived there were lists of connecting passengers names on the wall. Great, my name was on the list. There were lots of agents to help once you identified you were on the list.

They gave you a voucher to get 3000 yen for food, advised they were putting us up in a airport hotel and details of my flight the next day. It was well organized and efficiently run.

After going thru immigration and customs (which was a breeze once I told them I was ohenro doing pilgrimage and showed them the route guide book), I picked up a data simm card, 3000 yen cash from Air Canada and told how to catch the terminal bus to the local terminal, where the hotel was.

Once at the local terminal there were lots of people to ask for directions. The check in at the hotel went smoothly and the room was great. I walked to the Lawson’s convient store at the airport terminal to get a bento box and drink with my 3000 yen cash.

The hotel in the terminal is close to the ANA check in counter. I was able to get some rest and take a hot shower to prepare for my 8:45 am departure.

It will put me a little behind on my schedule walk, but should be able to make it to Temple 6 where I am booked to stay tomorrow night.

Like I say, the joys of flying. You never know what unexpected twist will be thrown at you. I was just glad the Air Canada staff at Haenda were so helpful and had everything arranged. It sure helps when you don’t have to call 800 numbers and wait in long queques. I will write a letter of thanks to the Haneda ground staff for a job well done.

Hopefully the rest of my pilgrimage will not throw any curve balls at me, but then that is what life is all about.

Up, up and away……..

Thanks to Rod’s advice, I arrived early at the Ottawa airport. I enquired about catching an earlier flight and was moved from the 9 am flight to 7 am. The agent was great and said “if we can get you on your way earlier, let’s do it.”

After a defrosting of the wings it was a great flight. There was a beautiful sunrise as up, up and away I flew. Here are some pictures.

Needless to say, there is still lots of snow still showing as I was landing in Toronto. Hopefully, it will be gone when I come back on April 25th.

The morning sunrise was beautiful and a wonderful way to start my pilgrimage.

All packed and ready to go

Hard to believe I will be off tomorrow to do the Shikoku Ohenro pilgrimage for my fourth time.

For the next 6 weeks all my worldly possessions will be in my day pack.

Besides my day pack I will be bringing a fanny pack which will contact the Route Guide book, my nokychocho – pilgrimage temple stamp book, my passport, smartphone, osame-fudo- nameslips, itinerary, and other miscellaneous papers/Japanese yen.

This will be the only two things I will carry, along with my walking stick which I will purchase at Temple 1.

Looking forward to enjoying the beautiful cherry blossoms (sakura) again and meeting fellow ohenros along the way.

I am feeling blessed I am able to take this journey this time. Feeling thankful that my health and my work has allowed me to do the pilgrimage once again as I prepare for the next phase of my life “retirement”. Lots to think about and to be thankful for.

I usually don’t get much sleep the night before my flight, as it is hard to clear the mind instead of thinking “what have I forgotten”. My motto is as long as I have my 3 items (my checklist)……..passport, plane ticket and Visa card, I can get by and purchase anything I forgot in Japan

Thanks for checking out my blog and I will try my best to post some pictures of my adventures. Cheers.

Ohenro 2019-Here I come.

It is hard to believe that it has been a few years since I did the Shikoku 88 Temples pilgrimage. I have decided the time is right to do it for the fourth time. A time to reflect on my next stage of life I am entering (retirement) and to enjoy the beautiful spring sakura (cherry blossoms).

Shikoku in the spring presents it challenges, as I am finding out many places to stay are full already, since it is a popular time of year to do the ohenro pilgrimage.

So, I am looking at trying to decide the places I want to stay ahead of time and see if they are available.

Shikoku here I come. I am ready for a change and to have the opportunity to reflect on things.

Haneda airport – on my way home

I checked out of the hotel and made my way to Haneda airport. When I arrived I purchased a bento lunch box at the 711 at the airport.

I went up to the observation deck and enjoyed it while watching the planes land and take off.

While I waited to check it it was interesting to watch some Japanese sword fighting that was being filmed. Not sure what they were practicing for. I tried to take a couple photos. Since I was early it was interesting to watch them samurai practicing.

Haneda is a hugh airport and enjoy being able to go outside on the observation deck and relax.

On the way to the observation deck they have a flight simulator you can try.

There was an interesting wall where for 500 yen you could buy a small wooden plaque and write a message and add it to the wall.

So, I will publish this last post of my November, 2017 blog, another truly amazing trip.

There was a display board with models of airlines that fly into Haneda. Here is the one for Air Canada.