Please start at Day One

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Day 3 - Temple Lodging

I am starting to see familiar faces already, of people walking at a similar pace to me. I passed Rex and Rachael on the road today, and I walked with a Japanese man from Temple 3 to 4. Despite telling him that my Japanese is poor, he continued chattering away quite happily, and very quickly. I was only catching about one word in ten, nodding politely and smiling, but he was very patient with me, and when he saw that I was still looking bemused as he was telling me something important, he would slow down, repeat it seven times, do some sign-language, we would consult my electronic dictionary, and eventually I would understand.

At Temple 3 I saw the reflection of my face in the water at the bottom of the well (Temple 3 is Konsenji - "Gold Well Temple") which according to my guidebook means I will live to be 92. At Temple 6 I arrived at the same time as a coach party of Henro, so it suddently became very busy. It takes about 10 days to complete the pilgrimage by by coach, so this is a more convenient option than walking the entire route, much cheaper and quicker, although it meant I had to wait in a big queue to get my book stamped.

I bought a bottle of a Japanese herbal drink in a small shop between Temples 5 and 6. I couldn`t read the Japanese writing on the bottle, the drink smelled and tasted foul, but the bottle had a picture of 10 different herbs so I`m sure it was good for me. As I was leaving the shop, the lady grabbed a bag of cakes from the shelf and thrust them into my hands saying "O Settai" (a gift to pilgrims), I was very thankful as I had started to feel a bit rough and needed an energy boost.

I left my (heavy) rucksack at Temple 6 while I carried on to Temple 7 which was only 1.4km away, and then returned to Temple 6 Anrakuji, to stay in the temple lodging. I had thought that a temple lodging would be an austere experience, but they had excellent facilities: washing machines and dryers, I spent 15 minutes on an electric massage chair, and they had very posh toilets, with heated seats, warm jets of water, an air-dryer for the nether regions, and even buttons to press to make the seat and lid go up or down automatically all from a remote control on the wall of the cubicle. I thought that the temple diet would automatically be vegetarian, but my place at the dinner table had a big sign warning the staff not to serve me fish or meat - which all the guests were eating - but the food was excellent, similar standard to the Ryokan.

Before dinner I had opened the door to the bath, and had a two second moment of panic as I saw there was already a middle aged Japanese chap with a bald head and a red puffy face, as though he drank a lot, sitting in the bath. It would have been rude, and cowardly, to walk away so I strode in confidently and was glad of my "practise run" the night before when I had the Japanese bath to myself, so I knew about washing myself first etc. The man grunted something at me, and I was not sure if it was a "Go away" grunt, or a "Hello, please do come and join me" grunt so I took a chance and jumped in next to him. I was concerned about my tattoos. Quite unremarkable in London, but they still turn heads in Japan as only Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) get tattoos, and some public baths prohibit people with tattoos for this reason. A few minutes later another young Japanese man entered the room and started to shower, he received the same grunt from from the older man, and returned it, then stepped in with us. He tried talking with me, and I made an effort, but hadn`t brought my electronic dictionary into the bath so we faltered fairly soon and he gave up. The water was very hot and I think I stayed in too long as I felt a bit sick when I got out.

At dinner, I saw Grunt-san again, he was still sweating from the bath and constantly wiping his head. He was in one of about six middle aged couples staying at the temple lodging, and this appeared to be quite a treat for them. They were all chatting and laughing, obviously enjoying the experience, and they were knocking back a fair amount of Japanese lager (which they had to pay for separately) and also Sake, but in normal size glasses, not in the usual thimble sized amounts. I had to get up at about 4am to visit the toilet and I bumped into Grunt-san again, he was looking slightly ill.

  • Distance walked today = 18km
  • Distance walked so far = 21km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 3, Konsenji; Temple 4, Dainichiji; Temple 5, Jizouji; Temple 6, Anrakuji; Temple 7, Juurakuji.
  • Koban visited today = nil
  • Accomodation = temple lodging including evening meal and breakfast ¥6500, Temple 6 Anrakuji Shukubou, Kamiita, Tokushima-ken  〒771-1311
  • Expenditure today = bottle of strange herbal drink ¥140, laundry ¥300,  five Temple Stamps¥1500
  • Settai = bag of cakes!





訪れた寺= 第三番 金泉寺、第四番 大日寺、第五番 地蔵寺、第六番 安楽寺、第七番 十楽寺
日の支出= 薬草ドリンクのペットボトル 140円、洗濯 300円、宿坊(夕食・朝食付)6500円、朱印(5寺分)1500


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