Friday, September 29, 2017

Kaifu - Ozaki

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 9.
Temples: None.
Distance: 35.6km (244.1km), time spent: 9:54.
Weather: Hot and sunny.

Today I will leave Tokushima Prefecture and enter Kochi Prefecture. Kochi Prefecture is by many referred to as the hardest prefecture to walk through on the pilgrimage, since there are often long distances between the temples. Crossing this border does not only mean that I will have longer to walk from one temple to another, I will also enter the Place of Ascetic Training (Shugyō dōjō). Tokushima was the Place of Spiritual Awakening (Hosshin dōjō). It is an interesting aspect, as I am not religious in any way or a Buddhist, but still feel this purpose of getting to a temple. My awakening of a sort.

Morning sun over the Pacific.

At Minshuku Kaifu, I awake to a clear sky, it will be a hot day. I eat breakfast together with Yujin and Yumiko, they will travel back to Mitoyo City today and so only walk a short section. I get an orange juice and an energy bar from Matsuo-san before going on the road again. Walking next to a narrow bay after Kaifu, I wish I had woken up and gotten away earlier. It would have been a marvellous sunrise with the sun rising up from behind the ocean.

Path through the ferns on the way over Kome Pass.

I had seen other henros around me almost all the time since I begun walking in the morning, but they are all taking the Mitoko tunnel after Shishikui. I begin to feel like the outsider here, the one that always does the other thing, that no one else does. There is a path going over Kome Pass, of course I decide to hike over that pass. I find it strange that most (or all) will choose walking through a noisy tunnel rather than a peaceful walk in the nature, even if it is longer. Well, maybe I should not blame them, I have not been happy with all my excursions either, with the spiders and all.

At the top of Kome Pass.

The small fishing village of Kannoura with Kome Pass behind.

Strangely enough, there are no spiderwebs crossing over this path though. Even in the places of the path that are overgrown. At the start, the path is almost not discernible through the undergrowth. Walking upwards, my feet disappears into the ferns, feeling an anticipation of what hopefully is not there. The top of Kome Pass is marked by a statue that misses its head. Here I enter Kochi Prefecture. The vegetation thickens on my way down, stairs of stone disappering into them.

Ninjas adorning this bridge after Kannoura.

I emerge out of the path to a lovely small fishing village called Kannoura, with the buildings surrounding a small harbour. Surprising me with its authenticity. I notice the bridges I walk across, they are often adorned with engravings, paintings or ornaments, all nice touches. Today, I have come by a surfer, a whale, oranges, and ninjas. I return once again to Route 55.

Walking past a shrine named Myōtokuji (Toyō Daishi).

The next section of the walk sees me soon walking ever so close to the sea. This part of the trail is nicknamed the Gorogoro-ishi section, due to the earlier days when there were no roads and the pilgrims had to walk on the slippery and dangerous rocks next to the shore. Gorogoro means rumbling sound and ishi means rocks, together forming the sound that gave name to this area. Now, the cars passing by are providing the danger you meet on the way, unless you choose to walk on the rocks as the old henros did.

The coastline towards Cape Muroto-Misaki, at the beginning of the Gorogoro-ishi section.

Mostly a day of just walking, but the walking is nice. With good views of the coastline, passing by surfing places, monkeys in the trees, small shrines and quiet sojourns underneath trees. In the water and on the beaches are surfers eagerly awaiting the next wave. And of course, each step takes me closer to the next temple.

A torii at the foot of a small path leading to a tiny shrine.

Announcing the end of my walk is the sight of three standing rocks called Meoto Rock (Couple Rock). Another issue when you do not speak or read Japanese, is that you sometimes find it difficult to find the place you are supposed to stay at. I solve that by looking at the phonenumber, they are usually displayed on the signboards as well. At Lodge Ozaki I get a splendid room, with a balcony that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. When evening descends, the sky turns almost purple.

Evening at Ozaki.

Also staying at Lodge Ozaki are Naomi, a young Japanese woman, Koh from Singapore, and two Japanese men. One is doing the pilgrimage by car, so I probably will not be seeing him again. The other one is somewhat strange to me, after we say hello to each other, he sort of ignores me. We also met earlier today, also then did he wave me away after saying hello. He also has a problem with his feet. Naomi and Koh are nice talking to though. Dinner is good, but I have big problems managing to eat a whole fish using only the chopsticks, I feel like I am massacring the fish rather than eating it.

Tomorrow, the temple drought will end. From here it is between 15 and 20km to Cape Muroto-misaki where you find Hotsumisakiji, the first temple in Kochi.

The dinner at Lodge Ozaki, good, but I have trouble eating a whole fish using the chopsticks.

<- KaifuKongōchōji ->

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