Please start at Day One

Monday, 4 April 2011

Day 35 - Stamp Relay, Say your Prayers!

 I woke up naturally at about 06:00 this morning, I switched on the TV to check the time and immediately saw one of my partner`s friends on the TV, he was talking about traditional Japanese arts, Geisha and so on, which was slightly surreal at 06:00 in the morning. He is originally from the UK but now works in arts and broadcasting in Japan. I have never met him, but had  seen his photo and heard his voice and he was instantly recognisable on TV.

I left the hotel and started walking at about 06:45, I found a payphone early and called my partner and Mother while it was still a reasonable time in the UK. I had a lot of walking today, with no real mountains. It is said that the journey between each of the temples is as important as visiting the temples themselves, and the pilgrimage should not be seen merely as a 'stamp relay'. However, I covered a lot of distance today, I was on a mission, and I bagged seven temples! I made a note in my pocketbook of the time as I arrived at each temple so that I would be able to tell apart the photos later. I remember that Temple 71 had LOTS of steps, and this is particularly memorable with sore legs after a month of walking. In one part of the temple there was a staircase which had exactly 108 steps, an important number in Buddhism. Within the main hall of Temple 75 there was a breathtaking colossal statue of the Buddha. The statue was overwhelming, it was golden and reached the ceiling of the hall, which was lit with equally massive Japanese lanterns - each larger than me. I politely asked - in Japanese - if I could take a photo, but the female temple attendant said, rather abruptly, "No, just stand there and say your prayers!" (my translation)

As I was approaching Temple 77 I heard shouting from behind me "O henro-san" ( - Hey Mr Pilgrim) and two men stopped me. One of them couldn`t talk - Matsui Youichi-san (but his friend spoke on his behalf) and he gave me a present of a small ceramic figure as O Settai. I have since been told that he is Jizou-samma and I have looked in my guide book and it says that Jizou are believed to be the guardian deity of children, pregnant women and travellers.
  • Distance walked today =  33.9km
  • Distance walked so far = 712.2km
  • Temples visited today = Temple 71; Iyadaniji, Temple 72; Mandaraji, Temple 73; Shusshakaji, Temple 74; Kouyamaji, Temple 75; Zentsuji, Temple 76; Konzuji, Temple 77; Douryuji.
  • Kouban visited today =  nil
  • Accommodation =   Hotel and breakfast ¥5,800, Marugame Plaza Hotel, Marugame, Kagawaken 〒763 0024 
  • Expenditure today = seven Temple Stamps ¥2100, food for evening and snacks / lunch tomorrow ¥1566, bottle of lemon drink and bottle of hot green tea from vending machine ¥240.
  • Settai = sweets from a henro on a bus-tour, a mikan (orange) from one of two ladies who were walking at around the same speed as me today - I saw them at most of the seven temples I visited today, a ceramic figure.

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