Please start at Day One

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Day 33 - Shikoku Fever

I saw another van-ful of cops by the side of the road this afternoon, then about 200m up the road was another one in plain clothes with a small hidden speed camera. In the UK everyone seems to get very upset unless the speed cameras are advertised in advance, painted bright yellow and very obvious. 

This area is fairly central geographically in Shikoku. I left Ehime prefecture this afternoon, I am just inside Tokushima prefecture now (where I started), but once I leave Temple 66 tomorrow I will be in Kagawa, the final prefecture. My last Japanese Teacher's family name is Kagawa, but she was from Tokushima. I have managed to spend some time planning the rest of my pilgrimage. As long as I don't encounter any problems with accommodation, I should be at Temple 88 next Saturday, then back to Temple 1 the next day and stay in Tokushima City for an extra day. I am also planning another rest day in Matsuyama so I will have four rest days in total, one in each of Shikoku's prefectures' main cities. Then I will travel on to Koyasan where I have arranged to meet up with my partner and stay for a night or two.
This sign says "Henro Gambatte!", which means, "Pilgrim, hang in there / keep going!" These signs, and similar, are all along the pilgrim route, and are very encouraging on the more difficult parts. I arrived at the ryokan fairly early this afternoon. I have stayed at Business Hotels over the past fews days, so I enjoyed the social element at this ryokan. The Business Hotels are good for privacy, but can feel lonely, whereas the Ryokan are good for socialising: bathing together, sitting in the same Yukata and dining together. The internal walls in this ryokan are all paper and glass, so if someone in one room switches on a light or TV then everyone in the ryokan benefits from it! One of the guests had already heard about me, the Gaijin Henro - foreigner pilgrim. 

As we were finishing the evening meal, my fellow 6 guests and I were treated to a presentation by the owner, about the next section of the route. I couldn`t keep up with most of his Japanese but he was quite entertaining and obviously had a very detailed local knowledge of the route, he gave out two maps that he had drawn, advising which roads to take and which to avoid. I think he is quite a serious walker though, at one point he was saying, "You will pass a Henro Rest Hut here, but you won`t need that, don`t stop, keep walking ... "  The other guests were talking about O Shikoku byou, I may have got that slightly wrong, but it basically amounts to Shikoku Fever, which is the condition whereby once you have finished the pilgrimage and gone home, you will want to return and do the pilgrimage again and again . . .
  • Distance walked today =  17.8km
  • Distance walked so far = 646.3km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 65; Sanrakuji.
  • Kouban visited today =  nil
  • Accommodation =  Ryokan and two meals ¥6,000, Minshuku Okada, Miyoshi City, Tokushimaken 〒778 5253
  • Expenditure today =   one Temple Stamp ¥300. 
  • Settai = the driver of a bus-tour Henro party gave me two bananas at Temple 65

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