2019-04-25: Kobo Daishi comes to Canada

I am happy to report that my Kobo Daishi walking stick arrived safely in Canada along with my box of Japanese sovenirs. I was surprised to find a tag added by the Tokushima ANA check-in agent with the following picture and note:

When flying back to Canada you arrive earlier than you leave Japan because of crossing the international date line. I like to say you get to relive part of your life over again.

When I arrived in Toronto earlier than I left Japan, the customs procedure is my luggage (my box of Japanese souvenirs) and Kobo Daishi walking stick didn’t have to be picked up and cleared thru customs in Toronto but would be shipped right thru to Ottawa.

Since I arranged to have a scroll made of the temple Buddha slips, I declared it as unaccompanied goods to be received later. This meant customs had to fill out a form, so when customs and duties are charged when it is delivered to Canada, I can apply to get a refund as part of my personal excemption of my trip.

The fun part was trying to get the customs officer to understand what a Japanese scroll was or to understand the word “scroll”, even though I had a picture from the company brochure in Japan. She asked to see the slips that I was getting mounted on to the scroll. Thankfully I had some extra ones ( since in some cases I received two) to show her. She wanted to know what the image was and I explained the temple Buddha enshined at the temple.

I explained I was also bringing a walking stick, which I explained was allowed per the customs regulations. I was happy to see it appear in Ottawa with a “Cleared Customs” tag on it.

It was nice to see the snow gone in Ottawa, the grass turning green and the tulip leaves starting to appear.

Now, it is just to deal with the jet lag. Instead of trying to make it through an afternoon at work, falling asleep at my desk, I decided to extend my vacation two more days, so combined with the weekend I would have 4 days to recuperate from the jet lag.

I was glad because at 9 am (which would be 9 pm in Japan) I finally crashed and was able to sleep until 1 pm after almost 2 days with little sleep.

Reflecting on my ohenro experience, I thank Kobo Daishi and all the wonderful people from around the world I met to make this another wonderful and memorable journey. I count my blessings and all the kindness I received from so many people and new friends I met along the way.

Time to adjust back to my routine and plan for my next journey.

Thanks everyone for following my blog and for your support/ comments. This will probably be my last entry for this ohenro journey. Arigato and a big THANKS.

2019-04-24: Wayward home

As I write this blog entry, I am sitting at the Tokushima airport Gate 4 waiting for my long journey back to Canada.

On the bus from Osaka to Tokushima yesterday, the bus kept displaying another destination. I asked the driver when I got on the bus – Tokushima……he nodded YES.

However, the bus seemed to be going the wrong direction. In a moment of panic, I thought to go ask the driver again, but to do this when he is driving is a NO-NO. So I thought I am still on my pilgrimage, if I get lost on the wrong bus, so be it. I will ask for help when we reach the ending point. Needless to say, I was wrong. I got out my smartphone and checked good old “Google maps” and it showed we were taking the longer, around the outside of Kobe route, probably to avoid rush hour traffic. Patience paid off and 3 hours later I was back in Tokushima.

Here is a picture of the tallest building in Osaka, as we zoomed by in the bus.

On the bus ride to the Tokushima airport this morning, I got a chuckle when I saw a place saying Canadian Coffee house. It is not the best picture as it was raining and the bus window was covered with rain.

I thought “am I home already”, or ” does someone know I am on my way home”. I wondered what makes a Canadian Coffee House unique.

Check-in at the Tokushima airport was so smooth. They put my Kobo Daishi walking stick in bubble wrap and checked it as my second piece of luggage.

So far the flight back to Canada from Tokyo looks on time. I was impressed with the ANA flight as it had free WiFi you could connect to with instructions in English.

It was interesting at the hotel when I was checking in and checking out, how people would react to seeing the Kobo Daishi walking stick and wanted to know if I was starting or finished the pilgrimage. I said finished and they smiled with a sign of approval for completing the pilgrimage.

At Tokyo Haneda they have an efficient way to transfer from the domestic terminal to the international terminal by bus. In the terminal it seemed to be busier than my previous visits, but it could be an extra long golden week (10 days) is about to start and people are traveling ahead of the rush.

Here is one last picture I took at Haneda of the many koi fish kites hanging in the departure area.

I will publish this post, before I board the flight to Toronto.

2019-04-23: Osaka shopping

Spent the last couple days shopping I Osaka. After getting lost a couple times (even using Google maps) and walking around circles I found a huge Daiso (dollar) store.

After a couple of hours of shopping, I managed a couple bags of items.

Close to my hotel is supermarket I have shopped at before. I was able to pick up the food items like seaweed, rice sprinkles, matcha latte powder, snacks, and other Japanese food items not available in Canada. I was able to pick up a box to pack the stuff in And ship on the plane as my suitcase.

Yesterday was relaxing day. I went to see the Osaka aquarium which has a large fish tank which must be over 4 stories high.

Here are some pictures:

There were penquins and Japanese otters. Here is a picture of the otters :

After a nice time at the aquarium I went to one of Osaka largest onsen called Spa World. It was huge and you can easily spent the day there using the many hot springs pools, swimming pool, relaxation area and food court.

It was a nice relaxing day. Tomorrow I will take the bus back to Tokushima to catch my flight back to Canada.

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.

2019-04-11: Day 28 – Temple 82 & 81 again.

The view from my room at the New Sunpia Hotel this morning was amazing. I enjoyed using the onsen at 6 am, which also has a view of the mountains and city below. The sun is shining, the birds singing and I had a wonderful sleep last night, what more could I ask for. As my friend Theresa, from NS, always says “everything happens for the best”. With the mix up yesterday, things turned out great.

Here is a picture of the view.

I had breakfast with Marie-Claude from Montreal and Ubasheba. I got a chuckle from her temple 13 story, where she was lost and tried hitch hiking. Finally a farmer in a white pick-up truck stopped. She said she kept saying Dianciji temple as she didn’t understand any other Japanese. He finally drove her to the temple instead of explaining how to get to it. I told her getting lost was part of the pilgrimage experience. I related to Linda and Christine getting a ride at the back of a white truck and my friend Bob getting lost and climbing a mountain before he realized something was wrong. We laughed about our pilgrimage experiences and brought back fond memories for me.

Breakfast was amazing. Here is a picture of the seto:

The good thing is since I was staying at the same hotel tonight, I could leave my day pack behind today. It was a wonderful walk in the mountain trail to Temple 82. The cherry blossoms are still in full bloom. Some petals are starting to fall when the wind blows. I call it sakura snow, as it is like snow in Ottawa gently falling. Here is a picture leaving the hotel and one during my walk today.

When I arrived at Temple 82, I ran into Ubasheba, and we hugged. As I was about to leave Marie-Claude arrived. Since I was in no hurry, I chatted with Marie-Claude who said she got lost trying to find the trail to Temple 82. Finally the shuttle driver from yesterday drove by and picked her up and drove her to the temple. The good thing we laughed about the experience and how the Japanese are so helpful and friendly when a foreign pilgrim is in need or lost. I waited for her to finish at the temple and then walked with her to get her on track to her way to Temple 83.

I showed her the nice rest hut near Temple 82. I found and showed her my friend Dara from Ottawa nameslip (who was a great help to me the first time I walked).

I told her we meet for breakfast to chat about our pilgrimage experience, along with Luc and Collette from Gatineau, who did the pilgrimage in the fall. I told her about the woman from Mont Tremblant I met on the pilgrimage and would put her in touch with her if she wanted to start a Montreal group.

Along the way I ran into Kazushi and there were high fives all around. I said I was glad he was still going strong. In some ways he reminds me of my Dad, not a big talker, but loves walking and being in the woods.

After departing from Marie-Claude and hopefully giving her good directions on getting down the mountain I ran into Noba, my Taiwainese/Japanese friend. It was a day of running into previous ohenros, or like old home week.

At Temple 82 there is a statue of a local monster legend. Here are a couple pictures of him and one with Marie-Claude looking on.

I walked back to Temple 81. When I arrived I saw an ohenro in a wheelchair. This is the second time I saw an ohenro in a wheelchair. The temples have many stairs, which would be impossible for a wheelchair to navigate. I thought it was amazing they were doing their best to visit the temples.

One last photo of some statues I like from Temple 81.

I stopped at the small cafe around 2:30 pm, even though I wasn’t hungry, to support the local business, admire the view and wait til my 3 pm check in time. I couldn’t believe it, I had these wonderful udoon noodles for 250 yen. I was able to use Google Translator camera function to translate the menu. I hope other ohenros support the local business, so they can be around for years to come.

Tonight was laundry night. The good thing is you can find a washer and dryer at all of the places I have stayed. So it is not a problem to wash your sweaty clothes after a day of walking.

Tomorrow will be an easy day walking down to Temple 80 and on to 83. I will then be back on schedule.

2019-04-10: Day 27 – Temples 77, 78, 79 & 81 that was not planned.

After a nice soak in the onsen ofuro (bath) last night, I woke bright and early as lights out was at 9 pm.

I enjoyed the morning temple service. Because Temple 75 is the birth place of Kobo Daishi, there are many students studying to be monks. At the morning service there were about 15 monks chanting. Afterwards you got to go under the temple where there is a pitch black passageway and you put your left hand on the wall and felt your way along. Then you came to a dimly lit alcove with a statue, then back into the darkness until the exit. In a strange way I wondered if this is what death was like.

At breakfast I asked the 79 year old ohenro his name using good old Google Translator. When all else fails get out Google translator. He wrote down his name as Kazushi in English. So from now on I will call him Kazushi. As I left breakfast, I gave the serving lady a pin as I said “goshesosamadishda”. I could see Kazushi sign he had one too.

Today was a wet and cold day. It was like a cold front set in again. So I decided to take it easy and take trains again. I had to dress in all my layers and the wind was still cold. Can’t complain as I just had a nice bunch of walking days.

At Temple 77, there is a place that sells statues. I showed them the small jizo statue I liked ( that I would like to bring back for the backyard garden). When the lady got the man, I think he said 10 million yen, which is either 1000 or 10,000 dollars. Not quite sure, so declined. The lady showed me a smaller one for 100,000 yen, but I said too heavy to carry.

I then caught the train to the next temple. As I was walking back to the station, I ran into Kazushi, and he offered a high five and a big smile. I told him I left my daypack in a locker in the station and was heading back to pick it up and take train to next temple.

As I got off the train to the last temple who did I run into but the Japanese ohenro who loves to chat but my Japanese not good. We walked to Temple 79 together. When we got to the temple and were washing our hands, she wanted something from her pack. First I thought tissue to dry hands, and she said no. Finally she pointed to unzip her day pack, which I didn’t want to do. So I took a leap of faith and when I unzipped it there was her stamp book. I pulled out the bag and she gave out a sign of glee. It was what she wanted and she didn’t want to take off her rain poncho to get the pack off since it was still raining. I found out later her name is Udasheba.

Here is her picture:

After getting our stamp book signed at the temple office, she wanted to go get something to eat, however, I said I had to catch the train to pick up my daypack and go to hotel. Since I was early for check-in I found a nice bakery with a sit in to eat so decided to stay there for an hour before check in. It was a cold day, so enjoyed having a warm place to sit.

What would be a pilgrimage with out some unexpected adventure. Little did I know I was in for a change in plans. As I was about to leave to check in my hotel, who appears but Udasheba. She chatted for a bit and she offered to share her banana. I tried to figure where she was staying and showed her my hotel in the Route Guide book. Before I knew it she said let’s go. As I followed there was a shuttle bus and she gestured for me to get in. I showed my hotel to make sure he was going to my hotel and everyone said yes.

Then I was asked if I could speak English to a woman to tell here to take the shuttle. When I spoke to her she was from Montreal and was supposed to stay at Temple 81. We figured it was the hotel in the mountain next to Temple 81. However, I wasn’t staying at that hotel and I would be dropped off at my hotel in the city. Well before I knew it we were in the mountain on the way to Temple 81. I knew something wasn’t right but would ask the shuttle to just take me back to the station.

The shuttle stopped at Temple 81 and was told we get our book stamped. So I left my day pack on the shuttle bus. One guy on the bus could speak some English so explained I needed to go back to the station. However, when we came out of the temple the shuttle bus with my daypack was gone. Panic struck as where was my daypack. I found out later the plan was to walk from Temple 81 to the hotel. When we got there, my bag was waiting in the lobby. After some discussion, it was decided I could stay there after the hotel clerk called the other hotel to cancel. At the end it was a bonus, because I would now be able to stay two nights (as I was booked to stay there tomorrow night anyway). Instead I will do Temple 82 and back tomorrow night and then down to Temple 80 the next day. This way no big climb. Kind of like a rest day. Sounds confusing, I know, but actually things worked out for the best at the end. I figure the moral of the story is to not to panic and things have a way of working their way out.

Since it was raining, I didn’t take many pictures. There was an interesting picture with a wonderful thought of the day.

There was a nice display of ohenro statues at temple 77.

The ohenro from Montreal is Marie Claude. Here is a picture with Udasheba.

All I can say, what a day………and the Sakura is still beautiful even though it was raining.

2019-04-09: Day 26 – Temples 71 to 76

After a nice night rest and soak in the onsen for my sore calf muscles, I caught the free bus shuttle from the Kanpo hotel to the train station. I had breakfast with Diane (chinese American) from Washington, USA and had a good chat. She started the pilgrimage last year, so this year is is continuing from where she left off. She just retired last year and we talked about the transition to retirement.

The theme today is stairs. Like the song goes…….” How many stairs is there to get to Temple 71.”

When I got off the train and finding my bearings to where I could pick up the markers, who should appear but my 79 year old ohenro friend. He showed me where he put the Canadian pin on his Wasaga. I asked how the Japanese woman was who fell coming down from Temple 66 and he seemed to indicate ok.

He stopped to say prayers at a shrine, so I continued on. Not far along who should I run into but the Japanese woman that fell. She gave me a high five and smiled. I asked if she was ok from the fall and she said ok.

As I started my stair climb to Temple 71, I ran into two woman from Montreal, who said they were only doing bits and pieces of the pilgrimage.

I like Temple 71 because it is build around a cave with nice statues. I was able to sit in quiet and reflect.

As I started to head down the first long staircase….see for yourself…..

I decided to count the stairs. There were 108 in the long staircase and a total of 442 to get to the temple. So there is your answer.

As I continued on to Temple 73 and then 72 (I always get these ones order mixed up), I ran into the Japanese woman and 79 year old at Temple 73. Time for more high fives. Just before leaving temple 73 the 79 year old Japanese gave me osettai to hang on my day pack for good luck. Here is a picture of it.

Here are some pictures with the beautiful sakura still in full bloom.

And some of my statues of the day.

When I got to Temple 75 – Kobo Daishi birthplace, where I was staying, I brought a pin. When I asked what it represents I was told Kobo Daishi.

After checking in, I did laundry and at dinner who did I meet but my 79 year old friend. I gave him the pin I brought as osettai. One day I will find out his name.

Today I got to walk through a beautiful bamboo forest. Truly amazing.

Tomorrow calls for rain, so we will see how it goes. Today was a day of running into ohenro friends, even though I can’t speak the language, and climbing stairs.

2019-04-08: Day 25 – Temples 66, 67, 68, 69 & 70

Last night I enjoyed staying at minshuku Okada. My Taiwainese/Japanese ohenro friend Noba was there, so I could get him to ask some questions in Japanese. Mr Okada is 90 years old. He doesn’t look a day over 60. He enjoys explaining after dinner how to navigate the trail.

The room is filled with postcards from around the world he received. He showed everyone the plaque I send him after my first ohenro. He also found my nameslips I left. He has a scrapbook of all the nameslips people leave. He is living life to the fullest and enjoys helping ohenros. It is his hobby and passion.

As well at dinner I was told there was one ohenro who was 79 and didn’t look 60. They said he did the ohenro 14 times. I was amazed and wondered how he was going to do the climb to Temple 66 is is the highest climb.

Breakfast was at 6 am, so we could get an early start on the climb up to Temple 66. I was packed and off at 6:30 am since I wanted to do up to Temple 70.

I headed out well before everyone else, and as I rested to catch my breath during the hard climb, who should appear, the 79 year old ohenro, just a trooping his way up and past me. When we got to Temple 66, I gave him a high five and asked if I could take his picture.

As you can see he doesn’t look 79. The lesson I learned from the two of them is keeping active after retirement and doing the things you love to do and makes you happy will mean all the world a difference. A simple lesson I know but one that I found reflected so well in these two.

On the way to Temple 66, they have new signs which I liked especially the English part “you can do it”.

It rained last night, however stopped when I left. It was beautiful to view the sun rays thru the trees as the mist was clearing.

As well, the water droplets from the trees would drip on your head. Reminded me of being in India and having hot oil dripped on your forehead at Dr Rao after the massage treatment. The cold water droplets felt good on my head. Maybe a new form of enlighment.

On the way up the trail there was a sign no NO 2, which I thought at first was no snakes by the picture, but laughed when I realized no NO 2 toilet use on the trail please is probably what it meant.

At the top was a nice congratulations sign.

It took me about 2 hours to do the climb, but enjoyed it. He are some other pictures from Temple 66.

I like the one of all the Buddhas.

When I got to Temple 67, there were hundreds of people, many dressed in black. I asked at the stamp office and they said it was a celebration of Buddha birthday (I think). He said there was free udoon, but I wanted to get to Temple 70, so thanked him and said I didn’t have enough time.

At Temple 68/69 (which are together) the gift shop had an outfit for ohenro cyclist, which I thought was interesting.

There was a hugh tree in the middle of Temple 68/69.

Today was a crueling 31 km, which I realize is too much. No blisters, but my calves and heal muscles are very sore. Tommorow I will take a train part way to reduce walking. The Hotel has a nice onsen and said they have a free shuttle bus at 9 am to the train station.

A very good day walking and very inspiring how a 79 and 90 year old enjoy their retirement.

2019-04-07: Day 24 – Temple 65 and on my way to Temple 66

Today’s theme is osettai and peaceful meditation. My muscles were a bit sore this morning, so I walked a little slower and tried to take it easy on them. I felt better as the cold is getting better.

I enjoyed spending some time just sitting and enjoying the beautiful sakura amongst the Temple 65 buildings and statues. Here are some pictures of the beautiful sakura, which is in full bloom and a statue I liked. Just as I was leaving there was this bus group that arrived and they all marched in a single line led by a monk dressed in full pilgrim attire.

It was a nice walk along a shaded country road on my way to Temple 66, listening to the birds singing and the sounds of the morning. There was a beautiful view of the city below.

Before walking on the busy highway 192, I stopped into Bangai 14. These are related temples and shrines associated with the pilgrimage. When I got my book stamped the monk asked where I was from and gave me some crackers as osettai. There is a small jizo statue I really liked at the Bangai and nice statue of Fudo Myoo.

As I continue my walk up busy highway 192 with the trucks rolling by, there was a driveway where a lady was trying to pull out on the road. I stopped and waved her to go. Instead she waved me on. A man came out of the house with a banana and drink and gave it to me as osettai. I thanked him and before I knew it they disappeared down the road. Here is a picture of my osettai received today.

Along highway 192, there is a nice rest stop. Since it was a warm day, I stopped to cool off my feet and enjoyed my osettai. I am not sure what the drink was but it tasted ok and gave me energy. As I rested, I watched this farmer as he was using a tiller to get the field ready for spring planting.

Since I knew I would be too early to check in the minshuku (like a bed & breakfast), I was going to stop for a late lunch at this nice udoon restaurant that I was introduced to by an American ohenro, I met the first time walking. I was looking forward to tempura udoon for lunch.

I was a little saddened when I got there and it was closed along with other businesses around it. The water wheel was stopped and was in bad condition. I felt bad for the business of Shikoku, since this is not the first time I saw some shops closed.

Since I had two hours to kill before checking in, I didn’t want to sit by the busy highway 192. So I walked up this small mountain road with a small stream running. I found a path and walked along the stream and found a spot to sit and meditate on a rock in the small stream.

It was nice listening to the gentle flowing water and the frogs croaking. It was nice and cool, since the temperature when I walked through the tunnel said it was 21 degrees celcuis when I exited. I think the temperature sign is so drivers know if the roads are freezing in the winter. I saw a sign about adding chains to tires. It was a warm day when walking along highway 192. It was nice to relax, meditate and write my blog by the stream.

On my way to the minshuku there were these stuff birds sitting outside a building and some more fish kites.

It was another beautiful day for walking. Tomorrow is the big climb to Temple 66. Now I must get ready for my turn to have a bath (ofuro) and dinner at 6 pm. I have a nice room on the first floor with this stream outside my window with the sound of running water making it very soothing

2019-04-06: Day 23 – Temples 60 & 61

After taking more medicine for my cold and sinuses, it helped me to sleep well last night for an early rise for the big climb.

It was a beautiful day for walking and climbing. However, I didn’t take many pictures. At the bottom of Temple 60, before the big climb is a nice rest area. They put in new washrooms and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. A nice Japanese man, who had driven to the rest stop, gave me some nice dark chocolates as osettai. He then explained about breathing exercises I could do (I think) and I practiced the moves with him. He seemed to appreciate that I was following along, even though I didn’t understand what he was saying in Japanese.

Here are a couple pictures of the rest stop with the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

I then started the grueling climb up the final 2.2 km. It seemed to be the longest 2.2 km I have had to walk. At one point I ran into this older lady and man. She was struggling to climb the big steps. When I passed them I said “gambadette” which is do your best in Japanese. When I reached Temple 60, there was a mountain hiking group from a US tour company, which I chatted with.

Here are a couple photos of Temple 60.

They had a nice garden area with a fish pond.

Just as I was about to leave, the older Japanese couple arrived. I bowed to them and gave them each one of my ohenro badges as osettai. I congratulated them on making it.

The hike down to Temple 61 was longer than I expected.

When I arrived the stamp office building has been torn down and a temporary building in it’s place. It is a big modern building with a large Buddha inside. I like to just go in and sit but the stairway was blocked. Just as I decided to leave, I noticed people going up steps on the other side. So I followed and it was open after all. So I got to sit inside and admire the beauty of the Buddha and relax my sore muscles and feet.

Here are a couple pictures of the cherry blossoms.

They have now constructed a temple 62 office in the parking lot of Temple 61. This is where you are supposed to get your book stamped I guess now. Yesterday I stopped in at Temple 62 and paid 600 yen instead of the normal 300 yen.

The new Route Guide book shows the temple 62 office in temple 61 parking lot. I guess this is where you are supposed to get the stamp now, but it was too late for me.

On the way to Temple 61, while walking on the hot pavement, I thought there was a stick on the road. However, when I got closer, the hitting of my walking stick made the stick become alive and it was a big brown snake that was sunning itself on the warm pavement. It quickly slid into the grass after I was stardled. I was glad he decided to leave before I got too close. It is the first snake I have seen this time and I hope it is the last. I guess it is good to pound ones walking stick, so snakes can make an exit.

After taking the train I checked into the hotel. At the station I met a guy from Taiwan, who could speak English. He help me when we had to change trains. He said he was Japanese, but now living in Taiwan. He could speak English, Japanese and Chinese. I was surprised when I saw him using the English route guide.

A very good day for walking. I will head off to the onsen nearby to soak my tired muscles and then to bed early as I am exhausted.

2019-04-05: Day 22 – Temples 57, 58, 59, 64, 63 & 62

The temple list might seem a bit out of order, but this is the order I did them in. After temple 59, I took the train to temple 64 and worked backwards. Tomorrow I will do the big climb to Temple 60 (which the Route Guide says takes at least 3 hours) and the final climb is a henro-korogashi, which means a hard climb up to 750 meters. Then back down the mountain to Temple 61.

Today’s theme is still cherry blossoms. There are so many of them and they are so beautiful.

This one had different shades of pink.

Along the way there were some fish kites flying on an elaborate flag pole.

At Temple 57, I took a photo of the Buddha footprints and some of the beautiful Japanese trees.

At Temple 58, there were no cherry blossoms, but a beautiful view of the city. Here are some couple of statues I took.

At Temple 59 you get to shake Kobo Daishi hand for good luck, which I did a couple of times.

I then took the train to temple 64 and worked back to Temple 62. While waiting at the train station, I met this Japanese woman that I saw yesterday and at Temple 59. I gave her a Canadian pin and ohenro badge. She really likes to talk to everyone and to me in Japanese. I tried to tell her ” my Japanese is not to good” and she chats away at me anyway. We exchanged nameslips. Her nameslips was red. I asked if this was her fifth time. She said ten times ( I think) , however, when she showed me her stamp book, it was almost completely with red ink. You see they only do the black script once and then get the red stamps each time you do the pilgrimage in the same book. It looked like more than ten, but probably got lost in my translation.

While on the train she chatted to the person next to her and pointed to me that there was snow on Mount Ishizuchi, that Bob and I climbed last time, but I don’t plan to do this time.

As I was walking from Temple 63 to 62, I ran into her, we smiled/chatted and she have me a high five.

At Temple 63 there are elephants at the entrance, which I haven’t seen at any other temple.

As well, there is the stone with the hole in it. The legend goes if you can walk from the main hall with your eyes closed saying your wish and get your Kobo Daishi walking stick thru the hole your wish will come true.

I tried it last time, but didn’t have time this time.

After I checked in to the hotel with an onsen, I went to the onsen and soaked my hot tired feet in the ice cold pool for about 20 minutes. It was like an ice pack on my feet and calves.

Today was mainly walking on pavement, sometimes smooth, but sometimes rough. On the ohenro Facebook page, there is always lots of discussion on what kind of shoe is best. I have found the Altra runners with maximum cushioning works best for me. I learned about the Altra trail running shoes from an American walker when I did the pilgrimage with Dara. Even though they are maximum cushioning, I could still feel the small stones from the rough pavement. Hence, it was nice to cool the feet down in the cold bath at the onsen.

A couple more cherry blossom pictures before I sign off, go for dinner at 6 pm and early to bed, as it will be a hard day tomorrow and breakfast is at 6:30 am.

2019-04-04: Day 21 – Temples 52 to 56

Today was a sunny day. It started off cool in the morning and warmed up by mid-day. Around between 3 and 4 pm it starts to cool down.

I didn’t take many pictures today. There were lots of sakura in full bloom, but thought I have already posted a few sakura pictures.

At the end of my day, as I headed for the hotel to check-in, there was a park full of sakura with some pansies in front. So this turned out as my flower picture of the day.

Here are some of the temple photos:

Temple 52

Temple 53

Temple 54

Temple 55

Temple 56

At Temple 56 there was a small cherry blossom sapling, which will probably be a beautiful sakura tree in the temple in the future.

Since there was lots of sun, my nose and face got a little sunburned today. I forgot to bring sunscreen with me. Tomorrow I will wear my floppy hat to try and keep the sun off of my face.

I didn’t see any bus pilgrims today. There were lots of driving pilgrims.

Tomorrow will be another full day of temples. I still have this head and chest cold from when it was super cold a few days back. I would be walking and all of a sudden my nose would be dripping, as I race to get a tissue before someone see my runny nose. As well, I still have a bit of a sore throat and chest cough. I am hoping the warmer weather and taking it easier, will help shake this cold.

2019-04-03: Day 20 – Temples 46 to 51.

The minshuko I stayed at last night was nice. I was happy to be able to have a warm bath to warm up. When I got up for breakfast at 6:30 am I figured I was the only one that stayed there last night.

I checked the forecast and it said -2 degrees. I looked out the window and could see frost on the car windows. I said to the owner, it is very cold and showed him the forecast, maybe only up to +4 today. However, he showed me what it would be in Matsuyama, where I would do most of my walking today and by mid day it should be +12. I gave a sigh of relief.

The theme today is temples and sakura. I did a total of 6 temples and every one of them had sakura in full bloom.

Of course I had to find a few tulips and daffodils in bloom along the way.

So, here are the photos for today with the Sakura theme in mind.

Temple 46 – oooops, no sakura, but colorful peace crane chains.

Temple 47

Temple 48

This is a Japanese ohenro I saw at each of the temples today.

Temple 49

A shrine along the way.

Temple 50

Temple 51

At Temple 51 I ran into the Dutch couple I met the day before and thanked them for turning up the temperature. They laughed and we’re glad to be staying in a hotel tonight.

I then walked to the Dogo onsen and checked with the tourist office on which tram I could take to the JR Matsuyama station, which is where the Henro House I am staying at is nearby. It was so easy, one tram, number 5, all the way to the end and the fare is a flat fee of 160 yen.

When I arrived at the Matsuyama train station there was a Daiso store on the 2nd floor (100 yen shop or dollar store) which I had to check out. I needed to buy some incense. I also found an incense plastic case (which I find handy and left at home), some white driving gloves to keep my hands warm and snacks. I had to resist on buying too much as I would have to carry the extra weigh. I am sure I will find one after I finish my pilgrimage and do the shopping part of my trip in Osaka.

The day started with me putting on every layer I brought with me. At the end of the day, all I needed was my long sleeve t-shirt and ohenro white cotton jacket. What a difference a day makes.

Tomorrow, the plan is to walk about 20 km and cover 5 temples. Hopefully this warmer weather will hold up.

2019-04-02: Day 19 – Temple 44 & 45

Last night I stayed at a Henro House Guest House which was different. The first thing I did when I arrived was to use my Google Translator to figure out how to turn on the Air con as it was freezing in the dorm room.

I shared the room which that three double bunk beds with a guy from Australia and a Japanese student from Tokyo. I was surprised when the Japanese student said he was only 16. He was so tall he had to duck when going through the door. He said he was still on school break and traveling to see Hiroshima, Osaka and Shikoku. His English was very good and he told me he is learning it in school. Between me an my maritime accent and the Aussie with his accent, it was a miracle he understood a word. The good thing is we all got a lower bunk bed. There was a kitchen, toilet room, bathroom with shower and a common room with counters you could work at. The owner was very nice and explained things well in English.

There was a hot springs nearby, so I purchased a discount ticket from the Guest House owner. It was nice to warm up in the hot pools. There is one that is not too hot, and kind of like sonic bubbles. Your whole body gets covered with these tiny bubbles. It reminded me of when Dad was in the Camp Hill nursing home, and when they lowered him into the bath, they would turn on these sonic waves, which I put my hand in to feel and it felt the same. It helps to clean the body without having to scrub oneself.

Today turned out to be another cold day for walking. The wind was brutally cold again. When I ran into a Dutch couple near Temple 44, they said they stayed in a Henro House in the mountain last night and it snowed.

Today was flower day. While walking trying to get my mind off the cold, I came across some different flowers I never saw before. The first one was a beautiful red flower and seemed to just pop from the ground.The second ones I saw were at a Rest Stop area shop.I have been looking for post cards to mail to my friends back home but couldn’t find them anywhere. Finally at the Rest Stop area shop they had some of cherry blossoms. I was able to buy some Tokyo Olympic stamps, so just needed to find post cards to put them on. Tonight will be post card writing night.In Matsuyama I came across an interesting statue this morning which I liked.Here are some pictures I took at Temple 44. I found statues of the seven lucky dieties, on a boat in a pond at the temple, which I liked.Temple 45 was a steep climb. It is next to a mountain face with cave holes in the side of the mountain.On the walk back through the town, on the way to my minshuko, there were numerous displays of Girls Day dolls in front of homes which were beautiful.One last photo. As I was walking I came across this statue, which was my favorite statue of the day. I thought the expression on his face was unique and priceless.I was glad he had a nice warm hat on and two bibs, as he sure needed it today.

Hard to believe I have passed the half way point of the 88 Temples again. Tomorrow I will visit 6 temples as I work my way back to Matsuyama.

2019-04-01: Day 18 – Temples 41, 42 & 43

After another good night sleep and using my Japanese gargle stuff for my throat, I felt ready to hit the road.

Last night the hotel staff explained where there was a public bath (called sento in Japanese) nearby. So I went for a nice warm bath and got a bento box at the 711 convience store for dinner.

It was nice to sleep in a comfortable western style bed and that it was a non-smoking room.

When I headed out this morning the weather said rain clearing around 9 am. Well, all I can say, is not only was there a cold wind, there was also a cold rain. The rain pants I brought got put to good use. The problem is the sun would peak out for a few minutes, then all of a sudden you could feel the temperature drop and it was like this vortex hit with rain and very cold wind. I kept checking the weather forecast on my smartphone and the sun that was supposed to come at 10, kept changing, so never really showed up until late afternoon. On with the layers, and when it warmed ever so slightly, off came some layers. This was how it was all day. In amongst the sunny breaks I tried to take some photos.

There was a bed of nice daffodils, I passed, just as the sun was shining. So I had to stop and take a picture and count my blessings.

It will be awhile before I see daffodils in Ottawa.

Here are some pictures I took of Temple 41.

Here are some pictures of Temple 42.

I liked the one with the dog by the statue and it reminded me of Hanako and Chibi.

Finally, here is a picture of Temple 43 of a cherry blossom tree. On the way to Temple 43, the trails were closed, due to a major wash out. Even when walking on the highway you could see where the road had washed away in many places to one lane, and they were trying to repair it. I did try one trail but it was super tretrous. There were many fallen trees and trail bridges washed out. Very easy to sprain an ankle.

On the way down the mountain from Temple 43 there was a house with statues of Mickey and Minnie mouse. They must have been fans. It definitely brightened up my day as I had to fight the cold wind all day.

Tomorrow I will take the bus down to do Temple 44 & 45. Temple 45 is a hard climb.

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.

Final time in Japan

It is hard to think my Japan trip is almost over. Spent the last couple days shopping around Ueno station. Since I didn’t bring any luggage with me ( just my day pack) I am going to pack two boxes with my purchases and clothes from my day-pack and will ship them as my luggage.

Here are a few photos from around Ueno, as I didn’t take many pictures.

While at Ueno park there was a street performer which was interesting to watch as I enjoyed my bento box lunch.

I did my final shopping spree and was able to get everything packed in a box.

I was able to have one last matcha latte at Starbucks at Ueno station.

Sightseeing and shopping in Tokyo

After a good night’s rest I headed for Starbuck’s at Ueno station for my morning matcha latte grande hoto.

After trying my best to get my blog updated last night I gave up as the photos seemed to get stuck. I think it was my experiment with adding a direct video of the waterfalls. So, no more videos.

It was very busy around Ueno station. It was overcast with a sprinkling of rain.

I didn’t take many photos during my shopping adventures. Was able to spend a few hours at the Tokyo Hands store at the Tokyo station and get everything on my list. Lots of people shopping on the weekend.

There were lots of Christmas decorations everywhere as well.

One last day of shopping to pick up things I have added to my list and didn’t want to be carrying it around.

Hard to believe the trip is almost over and I will have to make the journey back to Ottawa.

Friday, November 17, 2017 – Travel back to Tokyo

Breakfast was at 7:30 am and check-out was at 9:30 am. I headed to the post office to mail my Happy New Year’s 2018 post cards. The post lady was so nice and checked to make sure I did them ok. I caught the bus back to Kii-Katsuura to catch the train back to Shin-Osaka (4 hour train ride) and then high speed Nazomi super express train from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo (2.5 hour trip).

Today was a beautiful day to finish my Kumano Kodo adventure. The lady who owned the place I stayed last night was so happy when I gave her a Canadian flag pin when leaving this morning.

Still learning some of the features of WordPress. I see how you seem to be able to add video as media instead of a link. I attempted to add the direct  video media of the Nachi-no-Otaki waterfall from yesterday, but kept getting generic error messages, which was a bit frustrating and caused delays in trying to get this blog published.

The weather was sunny but cold and I had the perfect view of the waterfall today.

I had a couple hour wait for my train, so had a chance to walk around Kii-Katsuura town and do some sightseeing. 

Of course there are many vending machines in Japan. However, I usually don’t see many that serve hot food like this one on the right.

I walked down to the harbour and there was a nice boardwalk.

While waiting for the train and walking around town I found it interesting that there were parking lots for bicycles near the train station with lots of bicycles parked there.

I also came across a Home Renovation store with a small garden centre outside with some end of season plants on sale. So took a few photos for Masa to check out.

I was able to catch the Nazomi super express train from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo. I only had a 10 minute connection time in Shin-Osaka so was afraid I would miss it. I thought it was funny when we stopped at Nagoya that some one thought I was in their seat. I showed my ticket for Nazomi 38 train and pointed to the electronic board at the front of the car, which showed Nazomi 38. I pointed his ticket showed Kadama 276 and he was probably on the wrong train, which already left the station. I told him he best talked to the conductor, as I am sure he wasn’t the first person that ever got on the wrong train in Japan. Problem is the next stop was Shin-Yokahama near Tokyo. So if he was getting off some place before he was stuck on the train all the way to Shin-Yokahama.

It was a long travel day but I survived. 

Tomorrow will look at doing some more sightseeing around Tokyo and work on my last day shopping list.

Kumano Kodo pilgrimage – Day 5 – Thursday, November 16, 2017 – Kumano Nachi Taisha

After a good night sleep, breakfast was at 7 am. The shuttle bus took me to Shingu train station where I took a train to Kii-Katsuura. From there I caught the bus to the Kumano Nachi Taisha shrine.

I arrived around 11:30 am and spent the day visiting the area, the shrine, waterfall and some trails. I was able to leave my day pack at my accommodations so didn’t have to carry it around all day.

Here are some of the photos of the Nachi Taishi shrine. There were lots of stairs to climb.

There was a pond with some Koi fish and where you could buy food to feed them. Of course I had to give it a try. I enjoyed and had fun feeding the Koi fish.

Next to the shrine there was a Shingon temple (similar to the ones on Shikoku) called Nachisan Seiganto-ji. Here are some of the photos I took.

After getting my book stamped, I walked to the waterfall and to see the Pagoda. Here are some pictures.

I hiked over to the falls and they were amazing. I paid 300 yen to get up close. When I was up close the afternoon sunlight was hitting the mist at the bottom to create a rainbow. It was so beautiful I didn’t want to leave. Here are a few of the many photos I took. See if you can see the rainbow in the mist at the bottom of the falls.

On the way to the viewing platform you could buy a saucer for 100 yen and drink from the fountain, which is supposed to be very therapeutic.

I tried shooting a couple of videos of the water falling and how the rainbow changed with the mist. The only way to add it to this WordPress blog was to upload it to YouTube and add a link. So I gave it a try and here is the link. I hope it works.


After spending time at the waterfall, I was walking back to where the trail comes out at the shrine to see if Max from the USA, that stayed at the same place I did last night, might show up, since it was a big climb with a detour. All of a sudden there he was. We chatted and was glad he made it ok. 

When I checked in my room at the Mitaki Sanso I have a beautiful view of the falls. What a way to end the day. Here are a couple of photos.

Some final photos of some statues and scenery I took.

I visited the local post office to see about getting some New year’s Japanese post cards to mail to friends. The lady in the small post office was so helpful and helped with figuring out the extra postage for Canada. She explained how to address them and asked if I bring them back to her tomorrow she will do the Post mark for me.

It was a wonderful way to end the Kumano Kodo. Tomorrow I travel back to Tokyo by train. I spoke to three older ladies from Australia who did the climb and they said it was grueling. They hoped to spend time visiting the shrine and waterfall tomorrow.

Kumano Kodo pilgrimage – Day 4 – Wednesday, November 15, 2017 – Yunomine back to Hongu Taisha and Koguchi

After a nice soak in the onsen last night, a wonderful meal and being able to dry my clothes, day pack and shoes (with the hair dryer in my room) I am ready for another day.  As they say, what a difference a day makes.

I decided to take the bus back to Hongu Taisha as I really didn’t get a chance to see everything in my tired state yesterday. Weather forecast is calling for cloudy, so we will see how the day goes. Plan B is to take bus from Hongu Taisha shrine to Koguchi where I will catch a shuttle to my accommodation tonight.

I want to check at the tourist office if the trail tomorrow is walkable. If not, I will go with Plan B and take bus to my last shrine I will visit.

I spent the morning walking around Yunomine Onsen area. It was misty and cool at first, but eventually the mist cleared and the sun came out. I was able to walk to the Yunomine- Oji nearby.

I stopped at a small shop where you could buy eggs in a net bag and cook them for 13 minutes in the hot springs water in a place set up to do this in the picture below. There was a strong smell of sulfur in the steam and the minerals in the water are supposed to add to the flavor of the cooked eggs.

Here are some other pictures I took of the Yunomine Onsen area.

Here is a photo of the Ryokan I stayed at last night.

In the nearby parking area I was impressed to see another EV 240 charging station sign. I decided to take a closer look at take a few pictures on the instructions on how to use it which was also in English.

I was able to catch the bus to Hongu Taisha and spent some time exploring the shrine and sending some post cards to friends in Japan and Canada. Usually the mailboxes are red but at Hongu Taisha there is a special black one with the three legged crow (Kumano Kodo symbol) on top.

I walked to the large Tori gate that is one of the shrine landmarks.

I was able to spend some relaxing time at the shrine taking pictures and visited the Haraido-oji nearby.

There was also a special shrine dedicated to the god that protects women.

Below are some of the other pictures I took at Kumano Hongu Taisha where the weather was better for taking pictures.

At one of the building entrances they had a stuffed wild boar. I have never encountered one but heard lots of stories how dangerous they can be if you encounter one on a trail. So I sneaked this partial picture.

I checked at the tourist office and yes indeed there was a detour on the trail tomorrow that would add up to an hour to 1.5 hours to the already 7-9 hour day. The trail is a steep climb, so not sure if I could make it by 4 pm when it gets dark. So I decided to take a bus to the shrine and spend time enjoying the shrine verses being concerned if I would make it before it gets dark.

I met up with Max from USA while waiting for the bus to the onsen where we were staying. We were able to share our walking in the rain horror stories. He is planning to try and do the hard climb and detour tomorrow. He is a brave soul. Hopefully he makes it ok. 

Today was a much better day than yesterday. What a difference a day makes.

Kumano Kodo pilgrimage – Day 3 – Tuesday, November 14, 2017 – Tsugizakura-Oji to Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine.

It was a dark and dreary day, pretty well sums it up. After a peaceful sleep I had an early breakfast at 6:30 am. At that time it was just cloudy. Had a wonderful breakfast and just as I was starting to walk around 7 am there was a light rain. 

I said good bye to wonderful hosts and got to feed the two pet goats, which were so cute.

With raingear on and umbrella in hand, off I went on my journey for the day. The light rain was ok to deal with. At one point it stopped and looked like the sun might break thru, so took off my rain coat. However, that was short lived and on went the rain coat for the rest of the day.

Last night there was also a guest from Spain who had done the Camino. He was doing it the opposite way and said he thought the last trail I was planning on doing was closed due to the recent typhoons. He said there were signs in Japanese which seemed to appear the trail was closed. He decided to bypass it and take a bus. Since he had a long trek he was looking at bus options as he thought some of the wet trails might be dangerous.

Needless to say I didn’t take many photos due to the rain. I will include the limited ones I did take before the rain got too bad.




As I started one of the first big mountain climbs, the rain got very heavy. The leaves and moss on the trail made it more slippery. I took my time and there were a few times I said to myself when am I doing up here in the pouring rain. To help clear my mind, I thought I would pray to the rain gods to take pity on me but it didn’t work. I needed a different strategy to get me through this. As the trails, became small rivers and my sweating from the climbing justade me soaked thru the bones, I think the new lightweight umbrella I brought at Tokyo Hands was the only thing keeping me sane. I thought on a positive note at least I get to use my new umbrella.

I remembered as a kit jumping in mud puddles with rubber boots on was fun. I thought as I sloshed thru the rivers of water with my soaked shoes this was like being a kid again. But that novelty soon wore off as my feet felt like they were in ponds of water. Thank heavens I had on my Monthly Merino wool socks, even though they were soaked my feet were surprising warm. I didn’t want to stop too long as I knew I would get a chill.

I ran into the Australia friend from yesterday who caught up to me and she was hoping for a shelter to stop for lunch. I agreed. The Kumano is not like Shikoku which has much more rest stops with places for pilgrims to sit out of the rain.

Thanks to her we both kept up our spirits and pushed forward as we slugged along in the river trails and mud in places. Heaven knows why we didn’t trip and fall as the trails we’re on the trederous side.

Well the gods were in our favor as we were able to catch a bus from Hosshinmon-Oji. At this point we were so wet, the sky was still dark and dreary, the rain was still pouring down, we both agreed enough was enough. We took the bus to Hongu Taisha theain shrine, since I still had a couple hours to wait before I could check into the Ryokan Yunomine onsen.

I found a coffee shop and met up with this woman who I saw the day before who was from France. She was so cold they brought a heater to warm her up. She said she had to change out of her wet clothes in the washroom across the street. I said the heck with that and preceeded to take off my wet upper clothes and get on a dry t-shirt as I was getting chilled. Thank heavens for my Merino wool sweater as I was finally able to get warmed up. She was catching the bus to Yunomine to see if she could check in early. I decided to have a look around the shrine before catching the bus to Yunomine. Here are some of the photos I was able to take in the rain.

Kumano Hongu Taisha

I then took a bus to Yunomine Onsen to check in. They had WiFi and the onsen is open 24 hours. When I asked if they have a laundry machine, he said bring down the clothes in a plastic bag and they would wash and dry and have ready for tomorrow morning for 540 yen. Bonus, at least the laundry God’s were being good to me. 

I have a nice room with toilet and sink. There is a hair dryer in the room so I will see about trying to dry out my shoes and day-pack overnight.

The Yunomine Onsen area has a natural hot springs which I took some pictures when I arrived. You can see the steam from them.

It was a dark and dreary day, but I survived. It sure makes you appreciate the nice weather.

Kumano Kodo pilgrimage – Day 2 – Monday, November 13, 2017 – Takahara – Tsugizakura-oji.

The Kirinosato Takarhara Inn was wonderful to stay at with a beautiful views and wonderful friendly staff. It was nice to rest and have a hot bath after walking yesterday.  In the morning it was beautiful to wake up with the morning mist in the valley below and the mountains in the background.

Here are some pictures of the room:

For supper they served local grown organic vegetables. For dessert they serve ginger sorbet. I must admit it is the first time I ever had ginger sorbet and I really enjoyed it since I like ginger. 

I also noticed when I walked thru the parking lot they had a EV charging station sign. I told them at check-in I was impressed with the two electric car stations they have since I have an electric car. 

A definite stay again place and since they had a 2016 trip advisor award banner I will be giving them a good review on trip advisor.

Today looks like a climb from 300 meters to 700 meters with a few uphill climbs and downhill treks. 

Well, the day started with a steady uphill climb on a beautiful cobblestone path.

It was a beautiful sunny day, which made it nice for walking. There are six Oji’s along the way. Here are some pictures I took:



Since there was no Oji, just the site where the Oji was, I didn’t take any photos of it. There was a nice rest area nearby.


There was an interesting jizo statue and a sign stating it is where someone died on the Kumano. I thought if I had a heart attack now this would be a very peaceful place to die.

I stopped at a rest area for lunch which had an interesting statue of a man riding a horse an cow. Later on there was a little shrine comemorating the statue with an explanation.


Again for this Oji there was only a stone comemorating where the Oji used to be.

It was here that I took a small tumble. My shoe slipped on a moss covered stone and my shoe drove my big toe into a root and I fell on my left hip. Luckily I landed on some soft moss and small tree branches which softened the fall. Amazing how such a small fall can throw you for a loop. When I got back up I could feel my big toe paining and my hip felt sore. I decided to wait til this evening to check it out. As suspected my big toe nail was a bit black on one side but was ok. I will see how sore my hip is tomorrow morning after a sleep.

Thank heavens no one saw me tumble. As a matter of fact, I saw no one else on the trail. It was very peaceful and serene. I enjoyed my walk and was trying to be careful around the roots and rocks.



I stopped at a wonderful tea shop next to the Oji and had a nice rest as I waited to check into my accommodation.

I took a couple photos of the beautiful trails.

There were some beautiful pink flowers growing on one of the stone walls with my shadow.

At one place they had some nice decorations outside with a welcome Kumano Kodo sign.

I stayed at Guest House MUI this evening. I was able to find it ok. Just before it there was a old cherry tree remains.

I didn’t meet many fellow Kumano Kodo hikers. Only two while I waited at the teahouse from Australia and United States.

Tomorrow the forecast calls for rain. After two wonderful days of sunshine I will see how it goes. Can’t compain. So far so good.

I had an excellent dinner. Here is a picture of the wonderful meal.