Friday, September 22, 2017

Anrakuji - Kamojima

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 2.
Temples: #7-10 (Jūrakuji, Kumadaniji, Hōrinji, Kirihataji).
Distance: 24.6km (44.6km), time spent: 8:25.
Weather: Rainy.

In the morning, I arrive at the breakfast table where I find a large note at my place saying that I cannot eat seafood, cleary they want to avoid any further misunderstandings. Breakfast is like a selection of small dishes, both similar and not similar to the Spanish tapas in a way (though you do not get that as breakfast on the Camino), I guess this is what I need to be used to when it comes to breakfast here. It is different, but far from bad though, and more than enough food.

At Jūrakuji, a statue of Fudō Myōō, a being that remains stalwart and unmovable (fudō) so to be able to block the various tricks of evil.

This was to be another day with several temples to visit, although not as many as yesterday. First off was Jūrakuji (The Temple of Ten Joys), the seventh temple, just a stone throw away from Anrakuji. I think the huge hotel complex somehow throws me off at this temple, it sort of takes up all the space of the temple. Although there are some nice statues here and the small shrine inside the bell tower is nice. At the nōkyōchō-office, the woman stamps my book with an indifferent look on her face.

View from the Goshoohashi Bridge on the way from Jūrakuji to Kumadaniji.

I walked together with Johan, Kaja and their Japanese friend from Anrakuji, with me lagging behind and catching up all the time. They walk constantly, but as I am curious, I keep looking at things and places, with my camera at hand. At each temple, I arrive later and later after them. This goes on until Kirihataji (the tenth temple), at this point I arrive at the time they are about to leave. On the way, a local woman wants me to take a picture of a flower, of unknown reasons, so I do that.

It is hard to tell if it is any different scenery today than yesterday, as it started raining soon after we left Jūrakuji, but it does feel more open. There was a lot more walking through fields and acres, farther away from the hills and mountains, which were partly obscured by the clouds. So far, I have had no problems finding my way. Waymarking on the Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage varies from various stickers of different sizes with a red arrow on them (and something a henro mini figure), small ribbons tied to twigs and branches, to wooden poles pointing the way.

The old pagoda at Kumadaniji appearing between the trees.

Temple eight, Kumadaniji (Bear Valley Temple), is a wonderful temple set into the hills and forests. Although I would have loved to see it on a sunny day, the weather of the day gives it a truly serene atmosphere. I see or hear no bears when I am the temple, but there are monkeys in the trees surrounding the temple. My fascination of the pagodas and the temple gates (sanmon) are growing for each one I see. The pagoda at Kumadaniji is said to be one of the oldest in Shikoku.

The temple gate or sanmon at Kumadaniji, believed to be finest of all the 88 fudasho temples.

The scenery is certainly more open on the way to the next and ninth temple, Hōrinji (The Dharma Wheel Temple). This is a more modest temple situated in the middle of flat fields of cultivated land. I like it. Quiet here, not many other henros or worshippers. Relaxing, while listening to the rain falling on the roofs of the temple, before I go and listen to the rain falling on my sedgehat. It is a quite nice hat when it is raining, feels like having an umbrella on my head.

In the rain I pass by stacks of rice straw hanging up to dry (not much drying today though). This is similar to a custom in Norway that is becoming more and more rare, hanging out hay to dry on wooden racks. I pass by small fascinating cemeteries that are overgrowing. I pass by small shrines and idols, some like small stone gardens. I pass by several warning signs of snakes, but I see no one.

From the ninth temple, Hōrinji.

Then I arrive at temple #10, Kirihataji (Cut Cloth Temple). That is, I arrive at the bottom of it. To get to the temple itself, I have to climb about 330 steps, but I quickly forget about them when I start to climb. The walk up is so beautiful and atmospheric, with the sounds of the rain dripping through the leaves and branches of the trees all around me. In the rain all the green becomes so enhanced. I feel like I am walking into a forgotten realm. At the top of the stairs lies the temple buildings, with a nice pagoda watching over them. This and Kumadaniji are the kind of temples you need to spend some extra time at.

Rice straw hanging out to dry on stacks, with the mountains in the background besieged by clouds.

Johan, Kaja and their Japanese friend are going to eat lunch, they tell me where they will eat. When I arrive at the restaurant however, Udon-tei, they are not to be seen. I surmise they had already finished eating when I finally got there, I am a little bit downcast about that. Almost finished eating, I see them passing by outside the restaurant. They had decided to eat another place instead.

On the way to Kirihataji, I pass by this shrine next to the road, Azukiarai Daishi.

After Kirihataji, the rain had picked up, it certainly did not get any better. In the direction I am going, the mountains are besieged by the rain clouds. I am getting wet now, but my only concern is that I know I will be walking up into those mountains tomorrow. With rain, that might be hard day ahead of me. I am walking over Zennyūjima Island alone, the first feeling of being in a remote place I have had so far. I wind my raincoat tighter around myself, actually enjoying myself on this part.

The climb up to Kirihataji consists of about 330 steps, but it is a wonderful walk up through the woods to get to the temple.

On the other side of the bridge crossing Yoshino River at the outskirts of Kamojima, I can see Johan and Kaja. I overtake them just in time to get to say farewell, as it is uncertain if I will meet them again. We could not get a reservation at Shōsanji (temple #12), and they were uncertain if they would manage to walk the additional kilometres to the next place to stay. They have decided to skip that temple, they will be ahead of me from now on.

In Kamojima I find the place I want to stay the night at. It is quite the unbelievable place, and it is all for free. Next to the Kamojima Onsen lies a small hut, Kamonoyu. It has two small rooms with tatami mats, a washing machine, a sitting place outside and a toilet nearby. And best of all. It is next to an onsen, a Japanese bathhouse. After walking in the rain almost all day, it is wonderful to slip down into a steaming hot bath. After my bath, I sit outside the hut, relaxing with a cold beer that I bought earlier from a vending machine.


For dinner, I head down into the town centre where I eat at an Indian restaurant. Yes, I am in Japan and I am eating at an Indian restaurant, but I mistook the place for a rice and curry place. It is a buffet, so I get enough to eat. Then I stock up on some snacks in a convenience store and return back 'home'. No one else has arrived while I was away. I had expected Otsu-san to show up, at least here, but I have seen no sign of him all day.

Inside Kamonoyu, a free hut for henros to spend the night at in Kamojima, right next to the Kamojima Onsen.

Despite the weather, it has been a nice day. And it ends with me sitting outside this wonderful free hut, relaxing in the dark until it gets chilly and I retreats inside. A man on the way to the bathhouse stops by to give me two small lucky charms as osettai. I will return to that subject in a later post. I read some in the light inside the hut, while looking at all the nameslips hanging on the wall. A large spider crawls around on the outside of the door. Tomorrow, the mountains awaits, it is not supposed to be rain.

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