Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hiwasa - Kaifu

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 8.
Temples: None.
Distance: 36.3km (208.5km), time spent: 10:18.
Weather: Sunny, rainy, sunny.

I had been told that it usually takes about 40 to 45 days to do the pilgrimage, and one should estimate walking about 30km each day in average. In order to follow my own progress underway, I found a 40 days itinerary for the walk on the internet. With no intention of following it strictly though. So far, I have had only one day where I walked about 30km, so I know that at one point I needed to step up the distances walked. Today became that day. In fact, from Yakuōji there are actually around 76km to the next temple, so this was also the first day without visiting any of the pilgrimage temples.

Which is not entirely true, as I actually do visit Yakuōji again before leaving Hiwasa. Maybe I just needed a temple refueling before embarking on the long 'dry' period ahead. Or it might be that it is just a nice temple.

Sunrise from my room at Umigame-sō.

Hiwasa and the castle seen from Yakuōji.

Today, I had woken up to a fine sunrise outside my windows overlooking the beach and sea. And it was still nice weather when I left Hiwasa. I was in serious doubt in what to do, or where to go actually. Just south of Hiwasa there is a 18km scenic road that goes to Mugi called the Minami-awa Sun Line. That way is neither the official or an alternative route of the pilgrimage, but from what I have read it was supposed to be a very nice walk. Taking that route however, means breaking another one of my purist rules. With the walk from the previous year fresh in memory, I decided to challenge myself and take the coastal way. The waymarking on the GR1 Sendero Historico was at times so bad that I was forced to take alternative routes.

Looking down at the scenery below from a bridge on the Minami-awa Sun Line.

To get the noteworthy parts of the road, I first have to walk up a valley after Hiwasa, it is all road if you choose to go this way, and then through a tunnel. The views are wonderful when I first arrive at the point where I can look out over the ocean, although the blue sky has at that time been replaced by clouds. Even with the loss of the sunny weather, the walk is great and I marvel at the sight of the cliffs, coves and islands with the Pacific Ocean as background. The view of the horizon I am heading towards on the other hand is not so good, from there dark clouds are speeding to meet me and on the last hour or so before Mugi the road changes name to the Minami-awa Rain Line. Rain is hammering down on me and the small islands out on the sea are dropping in and out of existence.

View of the cliffs, called Senba Kaigai, islands and coves from the Minami-awa Sun Line.

Rain passing by over the landscape and ocean, with the vegetation appear to tighten close together in this weather.

Reaching the small town of Mugi, the rain has abated, and I go straight to the nearest convenience store for a hot cup of coffee. Other henros trudge by in their ponchos, soaked, the official route going inland did not escape the torrent either. I doubt their views were any better than mine. From Mugi they will also be walking next to the ocean. Outside Mugi there is a popular island called Tebajima that has a guesthouse with good reputation, which is frequently used by henros.

A dramatic sky over the ocean from a pavilion near Waraji Daishi.

As before, I try to avoid the tunnels and instead go around or over them if there is a path available to do so. The entrance to one of these paths are so barred with spiders that I have to avoid that as well. In doing so, I discover a lonely pavilion overlooking the sea, with great views of the coast and sky. The rain has left a dramatic sky in its wake. Surfers has also emerged as the sun appear to regain control over the sky. Another escape from a tunnel takes me on a short walk through a forest that ends with a walk along the beach, passing by fishermen waiting for a catch.

A lonesome surfer waits for the next wave to hit outside a beach not far from Saba Daishi.

Path of the old Henro trail avoiding one of the tunnels on the way.

There are 88 main temples on the pilgrimage, but there are also an additional 20 temples that are called bangai or bekkaku temples (outside the number). If you add visiting these temples to your pilgrimage, you will add about 150km to the total distance, making it about 1300km instead of 1150km. Most of these temples requires you to leave the standard route, hence the additional kilometers, but some are located almost right on the trail. Like Saba Daishi, bangai temple #4, an interesting temple where there is a statue of Kūkai holding a mackerel of all things. I arrived at the temple from a short, but pleasant walk through the woods.

Saba Daishi, bangai temple #4.

There is another star in the guidebook in Kaifu, a minshuku (or hotel as they call it) with the same name. I had met a couple from Mitoyo City, Yujin and Yumiko, earlier today and they are staying here as well. It is also a very nice place and the host, Matsuo-san, is very friendly. He drives us to a nearby local restaurant, Monya (if I remember the name correct), which dishes up with a great dinner for us. Yujin and Yumiko are a great acquiantance, and we communicate quite well even with their limited English and my limited Japanese. They are actually living almost next door to temple #70, Motoyamaji.

Tebajima and another island.

Late sun seen from Kainan.

It was kind of strange not having to do the temple rituals, I am getting accustomed to doing it now, even if I know that I am not doing it entirely correct yet. In some way, there is a sense of purpose of coming to a temple along this pilgrimage. The walk on the Minami-awa Sun Line was the hightlight of the day, with its twisting road overlooking the oceans, even when the deluge hit. No deluge tomorrow I have been told, no temples either.

Eating dinner together with Yujin and Yumiko at alocal restaurant in Kaifu.

<- HiwasaOzaki ->


  1. "Taking that route however, means breaking another one of my purist rules." <- What rule that might have been?

    1. Hi, well, for me it amounts to that when I walk a long distance trail, I follow that route and not other paths. Even though the other paths may bring me to the same place in the end. If I don't follow the actual route (or official), I feel somewhat that I have been doing something else, and not walked the trail I meant to do. Thinking like that, I could just choose whichever way I want, and it would probably be nice, but it's not what I'm there for.