Please start at Day One

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Day 2 - Ferry to Shikoku, Temple 1 Gift Shop

The hotel breakfast was a buffet selection of both Japanese and Western style food.  I chose a big dollop of what looked like soggy scrambled egg, some noodles, and some seaweed, but I also grabbed a couple of more familiar bread rolls and a croissant just in case.

Having noodles for breakfast took me back to my student days, but I returned for more; I had already paid for the breakfast so decided to fill myself up as much as possible to save money on lunch.

It took me about half an hour to walk to the ferry port, I haven`t quite mastered Japanese pedestrian crossings yet. Even when they start "chirping" and the green man is showing, I still had to dodge lorries and motorbikes. On the first occasion I nearly reached for my warrant card to remonstrate with the biker, but I remembered that I was not in London and I don`t know enough Japanese to give someone a stern telling off, he sped off down the pavement away from me anyway. After this happened at virtually every crossing, I decided that either, every driver in Wakayama is dangerous and has no regard for the law or, which is more likely, the laws are different here and a green man only signifies, "You can try crossing now Pedestrian-san, but don`t expect the traffic to stop for you!"

On the ferry from the mainland to Shikoku island, I stayed up on deck watching the scenery pass by, while my fellow passengers marched straight inside to the passenger room. "But you`re missing the view!", I was having an adventure and I am still marvelling at everything new that I see, but to them this was probably just a boring commute. However, after 10 minutes I was freezing so went inside to join them. In the passenger room room there were only a very small number of chairs, and slightly raised sections of carpeted floor, and I was surprised to see adults in public taking their shoes off, sitting cross legged and some even lying flat out on the carpet in their suits. To my Western eyes this was surprising, and looked childish, this is not a criticism, just an observation and something I am not used to seeing in England, but I relaxed, and joined them.

The hotel staff from last night had booked my next night`s stay in a Ryokan (a traditional Japanese style inn) near to Temple 1, but I had forgotten to mention that I am vegetarian, the Japanse don`t really understand vegetarianism. So before I went to Temple 1, I visited the Ryokan to warn the owner in plenty of time before the evening meal would be prepared. The owner hardly spoke any English, so I tried to explain in Japanese, but she took the news so well that I was concerned she may have misunderstood.

I carried on to start the pilgrimage at Temple 1 and bought all the Henro gear listed below. I felt rather self conscious in my fancy dress initially but decided to go with it. My Henro guide book outlined the proper etiquette to be followed at each temple, but it involved a lot of praying and I would not feel comfortable doing that. I do consider myself to be Buddhist, but I find the more esoteric traditions of Buddhism from India / China / Tibet / Japan etc too difficult for me. I find the Western Buddhist Order much more accessible, and I meditate and sometimes even go in for a bit of chanting, but I can`t say that I ever pray. I lit some candles and incense, had a quiet reflective moment, then took loads of photos, I spent more time in the gift shop than in the actual temple.

As I was leaving Temple 1 I spoke with two other Henro: Rex and Rachael, who thankfully spoke English - which means that I don`t have to think before I speak(!), and we walked together to Temple 2. They are planning to camp out and I was slightly jealous of their spirit of adventure. After lighting some incense and candles at Temple 2, and hoping no one would notice I wasn`t praying, I took some photos then went to the office to get my book stamped. The book is stamped and written in (with beautiful calligraphy) to prove that you have visited each temple, and this was my first opportunity to watch the graceful calligrapher in action, because Temple 1 sells the book ready-stamped!

I returned to the Ryokan, passing by a place where, according to my guide book, there should be a Koban, but I couldn`t find it, where`s a policeman when you need one to ask directions? I had seen a Railway Police office at Tokushima Train Station and had spare time before my train, but the office was empty, I`m not having much luck with the `meeting the Japanese police` aspect of this trip so far.

Staying in a Ryokan is a ritual. The owner gave me instructions. Shoes come off just inside the front door before stepping into slippers up on the raised part of the floor. I was shown, through sliding doors, into the tatami room - where even the slippers have to come off too, and the first thing I noticed was the lack of a bed. The owner showed me a cupboard with a folded up futon and explained that when I was ready I should lay out the bedding myself. She pointed to a folded up Yukata, which is like a simple informal lightweight Kimono and told me to change into it and that it was ok to wear it everywhere in the Ryokan, and even to dinner. She told me that the bath was ready now, but that it was important I should wash myself at the shower first and only step into the bath once my body was clean. I must have looked baffled because she then spoke her first excellent English sentence, "Please, just relax here."

I followed all her instructions, including the one to relax. The bath was bliss. Made of black stone with an impressive rock arrangement at the side, it was hot and deep, with a low window looking out on to a tranquil japanese garden, it was meant to be a shared bath but I was the only male guest so had it all to myself. The evening meal was impressive, a large selection of small dishes. I made broken conversation with the other guest at dinner, and she pointed out that the noodles I was eating had fish in, she pointed to them, but I carried on eating. This was a totally different experience to my previous night in the Western style hotel, and I felt that I had properly arrived in Japan.

  • Distance walked today = 3km
  • Distance walked so far = 3km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 1, Ryouzenji; Temple 2, Gokurakuji.
  • Koban visited today = nil
  • Accomodation = including breakfast and dinner ¥6500, Ryokan Kadoya Tsubakiso, Bando, Tokushima-ken 〒779-0230
  • Expenditure today = Ferry to Tokushima ¥2000, lunchtime snacks: two rice balls ¥200, huge apple ¥185, bottle of Japanese isotonic drink¥180, painkillers for my two day headache ¥700,  Henro outfit in total was ¥18540 but I cannot remember what I paid for each item, the more expensive items were the Noukyoucho (stamp book), Wagesa (stole, similar to a priest`s attire), Kongouzue (walking staff), Zudabukoro (bag to keep the Henro bits in), Osame fuda (name-slips, whose function at the temples I don:t fully understand, but they are also given out to people who give you "O Settai" - gifts to Henro), Hakui (the traditional white vest), Sugegasa (conical sedge hat), the other cheaper items were: a poncho, incense, and lighter, Temple Stamp fee for Temple 2 ¥300
  • Settai = the Ryokan owner saw me admiring the calligraphy hanging on the walls and proudly told me that it was her own brush-work, she gave me two postcard sized prints of her calligraphy.









訪れた寺= 第1番 霊山寺、第2番 極楽寺
今日の支出= 徳島へのフェリー 2000円、お昼:おにぎり2個 200円、大きなリンゴ 185円、スポーツドリンク180円、2日連続の頭痛の為の痛み止め 700円、遍路装備 合計18540円 それぞれいくら払ったか覚えていない。一番高かったのは納経帳、輪げさ、金剛杖、頭陀袋、納め札(僕はお寺でのこの使い方がわからないのだが、お接待をしていただいた人にあげても良い)、白衣、菅笠、それからポンチョ、線香、ライター、

No comments:

Post a Comment