Please start at Day One

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Day 34 - Prayer Aubergine

No need for an alarm clock this morning, at 5:10am the hustle and bustle of everyone else getting up woke me. The ryokan owner had told us last night that from his house to the next temple, Temple 66 usually takes about two hours, or one and a half if you are fast. It is only about 6km but it is up a mountain with a 927m elevation. I left the ryokan at 06:40 and was at Temple 66 by 08:15. It had not been too cold a morning, but as I ascended the mountain the temperature dropped rapidly and I was glad of the extra pair of gloves I had bought a few days ago, there was some light snow at the top of the mountain.

Most of the temples I have visited now are starting to become indistinguishable in my memory, but I am sure Temple 66 will remain distinct. My favourite temples are those perched on mountains, and the cold early morning walk to Unpenji in the snow was memorable. The temple itself had some interesting features, including the first Tibetan-style prayer wheels I have seen in Japan, and a huge collection of lifesize statues. Also at Temple 66 there was what looked liked a large bronze statue of an aubergine, on closer inspection I found that was exactly what it was. "O Tanomi Nasu" to be precise, which translates as something like "Prayer Aubergine", so for ¥500 you get an aubergine shaped wooden tablet to write your name, address, age and your wish, then you hang it on the aubergine shaped board. There is mine: third row down, second from the right.
Temples 68 and 69 share the same grounds. The calligrapher in the stamp office did both temple stamps at the same time, although they did not have a "two for the price of one" offer. I took a wrong turning coming out of Temple 70. All of the signs pointing towards temples are very clear and obvious, but most of the wrong turns I have made so far were while leaving a temple. I thought I had gone the wrong way from Temple 70 towards this evening's hotel, so I stopped to ask someone, I showed him my map and pointed to the hotel I was trying to reach, I think the English language on the map confused him so I pointed out Temple 70 and a main river on the map to give him some landmarks and he pointed out directions for me. I was not convinced he was right, but it seemed rude to ignore him, so I thanked him and started walking in the direction he had shown me. I kept walking until I came to another main river that I could not cross, but which gave me a landmark to get my bearings and I was able to correct myself, the man who had helped was now far out of sight so I turned around and reached the hotel eventually, after passing Temple 70 again on a 3km detour. 3km is a long way with sore feet. I was Mothers' Day back in the UK so after I had checked in, I went back outside to look for a payphone to call home. After over an hour of fruitless searching on sore feet, I had found one Domestic-only payphone and one out-of-order payphone, so I gave up and hobbled back to the hotel, sorry Mother!
  • Distance walked today =  32km (including 3km by mistake!)
  • Distance walked so far = 678.3km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 66; Unpenji, Temple 67; Daikouji, Temple 68; Jinnein, Temple 69; Kanonji, Temple 70; Motoyamaji.
  • Kouban visited today =  nil
  • Accommodation =  Hotel (room only) ¥3,800, Motodai Business Hotel, Motodaichou, Kanonji City, Kagawaken 〒768 0022
  • Expenditure today =  five Temple Stamps ¥1500, Aubergine Prayer at Temple 66 ¥500, and gift at Temple 66 ¥500, telephone card ¥3000, food for evening, and breakfast and lunch tomorrow ¥1648
  • Settai = this morning the ryokan owner gave us each two onigiri (rice balls) with pickles to take with us for lunch, a four year old Japanese girl gave me a sweet at Temple 68/69, she said "Hello" "Thank you" and "Goodbye" which was quite impressive, I did not know that much Japanese when I was four.

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