Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Byōdōji - Hiwasa

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 7.
Temples: #23 (Yakuōji).
Distance: 24.3km (172.2km), time spent: 7:44.
Weather: Rain most of the day with some breaks.

Yesterday, I had crossed paths with another henro sometimes, Matsuo-san, who is also staying at Emoto. We are both driven back to Byōdōji in the morning after breakfast. Warned that it was going to be rain today, I had already donned my raingear. While I have to conduct the temple rituals at Byōdōji, Matsuo-san can on his side start to walk. After Tairyūji, this temple has not such a grandios feeling about at, but it is not fair to compare it against that temple. It is a modest temple situated at the foot of a small hill, and I like it as well.

Looking out over Byōdōji and toward the direction I will be walking.

Today, a temple will mark the beginning and end of my walk, and in between I will walk along the coast. The main route however, goes inland on a road passing several tunnels on the way. It was an easy decision, even with the announced rain. I rather walk overlooking the sea, than walking down at the bottom of a valley. If it were on a top of a mountain, though, it would be a different case. I could hear the beckoning from the deep.

Tsukiyo Omizu Daishi shrine.

Bamboo forest work next to the road between Aratano and Yuki.

The free hut not far from Byōdōji looked quite nice, although similar to the one at Hosenji, only more cleaner and tidier. I soon catch up with Matsuo-san, at a small picturesque shrine called Tsukiyo Omizu Daishi, and we walk together for the next three kilometers. The walk is on a road, but there are no cars on it, only two pilgrims and rain. Lots of it at a time. Matsuo-san will however take the inland route and where I leave for Iya Kannon (okunoin of Byōdōji), we go our separate ways.

Iya Kannon.

I wonder if I will see him again. While Matsuo-sa now is on the other side of the river, I visit Iya Kannon. The small shrine is not that noteworthy, of course it may be a story of the place that eludes me that would have made it more interesting. I feel my heart beat faster at the sight of the wild pigs on the road afterwards, even when they run away into the woods.

Henro figure next to the route.

Over towards Yuki, I walk slightly bent underneath the light rain, but not disliking the walk. Quiet, with no cars. Yuki may not be the most interesting of towns, but I spend some time there anyway. Looking at the small harbour and climbing up to two hills on each side of the small town, one a playground and the other one a shrine. Both emergency locations in case of tsunamis. I eat lunch at the playground, looking down at the boats in the harbour and over the bay.

Overlooking Yuki with its harbour and bay from a shrine on top of a small hill.

While buying the mentioned lunch at a store, a woman approached me and asked me if I would drive with her to Hiwasa and Yakuōji. Now, I know that I should not refuse osettai, as it is considered rude. This poses a serious dilemma for me, if the osettai involves driving me somewhere while I am still walking towards my destination of the day. On one side, my purist thinking sort of forbids me to take any kind of vehicle as a means to move forward, I need to walk the distance. On the other hand, it is closely sort of forbidden to refuse such an offer also. I kindly refuse in the most polite way I can manage with my extremely limited Japanese. She did not say the magic word, 'osettai', and so I felt sort of off the hook on this one. I was still sad about it. I also know that if I had got into the car and been driven to Yakuōji, I probably would have returned here either later or tomorrow (yes, I am that stubborn). Do not mistake being driven to the start of the walk this morning for the same, I only keep to this 'rule' when I am walking.

Looking out over the sea and coast from a viewpoint after Yuki near Tainohama Beach.

Sad and mournful seas from Tainohama Beach.

Shortly after Yuki, there is a short detour up to a viewpoint overlooking the beautiful Tainohama Beach, coast and sea. There is a sad and mournful look to the sea in this weather, but looking at it does not make me feel the same. From here, I followed the coast, alternating between the road and small detours on paths in between, past small fishing hamlets and villages. Where there was an option to, I avoided the tunnels (not many of them on this route fortunately). While walking, a man in a car (one of the few cars), stop by and hand me a box full of hot buns with red bean stuffing inside. They are quite delicious, but the box is equally heavy.

Ruin of a car next to the path.

On one of the paths through forests, there a poles with haiku on them next to the path.

Close to Hiwasa there is a wonderful cliff, called Eebisu-dō, which has a hole in it, letting the sea flowing through it. A walkway lets you walk next to the hole and then around and over the top of the cliff, to a shrine and viewpoint, and back again. From Eebisu-dō, I can look towards Hiwasa with both the castle and the pagoda of Yakuōji visible. The large ugly building that is my accommodation for the night is also visible on the beach outside Hiwasa.

Looking down at the pathway going next to the hole in Eebisu-dō.

Eebisu-dō seen from the road to Hiwasa.

In the guidebook, recommended accommodations are marked with a star, and so I tried my luck at the Umigame-sō. Looking at it from the outside, I question that star, since the building is far from pretty. Beauty is found on the inside, is not that what they say? That comes true here, for it is a great place. And is has a wonderful location, right next to the beach and sea. With a nice private onsen overlooking it. I yearn to go straight to the bathhouse, but stiffle that urge since I have time to visit Yakuōji first.

Loggerhead turtles, or caretta turtles, at the Hiwasa Chelonian Museum Caretta.

The worst of the rain comes then, I have not come as far as the entrance to the Hiwasa Chelonian Museum Caretta before I get soaked. I run for shelter among the turtles, getting to know various turtles instead of various Nyorai, Bosatsu, Myōō and Deva statues. I can thank the rain for getting to visit this nice museum.

Looking up at the pagoda of Yakuōji.

Fortunately, the rain did not last long and I hurry to the 23th temple, Yakuōji (Medicine King Temple). Here, the temple buildings are located above each other on various terraces up into the hill overlooking Hiwasa. The pagoda watching over the temple at the upmost terrace looks modern, but I really love it. After conducting the temple rituals (a monk actually rung the bell for me with a deep resonating boom) and getting my book stamped just before closing time, I spend some time exploring the temple. The sky gets darker and the lamps are turned on in the temple, it is wonderful. I am almost the only henro here, but there is an abundance of the funny small red crabs crawling everywhere.

Yakuōji temple.

Dropping my intended walk up to the castle, I instead return in the dwindling light back to Umigame-sō to an exceptionally good soak in the onsen. The dinner is good, although my allergy of all seafood except fish turns into a small problem here as well. Satisfied with the day, I return to my room with some cold beers that I drink on the balcony while listening to the waves crashing towards the beach.

Hiwasa Castle.

<- ByōdōjiKaifu ->


  1. Wonderfull to read your blog. For me it is a walk down memory lane. I walked that coast route 3 times now. It is one of my favourite. Arriving at Hiwasa beach and staying at Umigame-sō. See my website:

    1. Glad to hear. Thanks for the link, although I don't read german (google translate to the rescue). Now I got to know what was on the poles along the path :)