Saturday, October 28, 2017

Awai - Iyadaniji

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 38.
Temples: #67-70 (Daikōji, Jinnein, Kanonji, Motoyamaji).
Distance: 30.7km (1107.0km), time spent: 9:49.
Weather: Rainy.

I walk together with Osata-san from Minshuku Aozora in the morning. Aozora means blue sky, but there is nothing resembling a blue sky above us when we leave, the top of Unpenjisan is covered in clouds. I am glad that I do not have to walk down from Unpenji today, but still would have wanted to stay up there. Thankfully, it has not begun to rain in full yet. It is a quiet and moody walk in the beginning of the day, and it is nice to walk together with someone. We pass by a pond by the name of Iwanabeike, which to me sounds like I Wanna Be Ike (I want to be a pond?). It has posters alongside of it, showing scary fishes with claws and teeth jumping up from the water, not a place to go for a swim then.

Me and Osata-san outside Minshuku Aozora in the morning.

Daikōji (The Temple of the Great Growth), #67, might be a step down from Unpenji, but is a quiet and atmospheric temple, and more so due to the rain that started when we arrived at the temple. Daikōji looks secluded from the outside world by its location within the trees surrounding it. Osata-san appear to be more in a rush at the temple, I think he worries a little bit about the length of his walk today, as his knees are still troubling him. I take it slow however, so he leaves before I do.


Wet roads on the way.

Back from the mountains, the route again traverses a flat and populated lower area, interspersed with fields, acres and small ponds. The rain turns itself on and off. I believe I saw Osata-san used an app on his smartphone for navigating the trail, but I am not sure it shows the correct route. Or my guidebook is showing me the wrong route. For after a while I can see him again, but he is then somewhere off from where the route is going, at least according to my guidebook and the waymarkers I walk past. Hopefully he is not as astray as the clouds fumbling down the mountains in the horizon appear to be. A heron standing on a boat in the Niike pond does not look very happy with the weather either.

A heron watches over the rainy weather on a boat at Niike pond.

Temple #68 and #69, Jinnein and Kanonji, lies side by side, but before I go to visit them I start walking up to the Kotohiki Hachimangū shrine. The long staircase leading up the shrine is wonderful, where stone lanterns and stone posts acts as a fence on both sides all the way up. At the top, the area below is barely visible underneath the clouds.

The stairway leading up to the Kotohiki Hachimangū shrine.

Kotohiki Hachimangū lies overlooking a park with the same name, Kotohiki. From a pavilion, I can look down at the park, staring straight at something that looks like a labyrinth of sand. The labyrinth is actually a huge coin made in the sand. I had originally planned to go and see the coin from ground level, but seeing it from here it sufficient enough, probably even better. The coin, called Kan-ei-tsuho, is a 17th century styled coin that is 345m in circumference. Apparently, since I now has looked at the coin, I will have a long life and no financial worries.

The big Kan-ei-tsuho coin in Kotohiki Park.

Approaching the 'twin' temples from above, I can see Osata-san below. Jinnein (#68, The Temple of God's Grace) and Kanonji (#69, The Temple of Kannon) are sharing the same templegrounds, and also the nōkyōchō-office. I am confused as to which temple is which. It does not matter in terms of being able to conduct the temple rituals at both temples, but I might be shuffling around which hondo and daishido belonging to which temple. I later learn that Jinnein is the temple that has an ugly concrete building and staircase you have to walk up in to get to the hondo, and that Kanonji is the more traditional one. If you arrive at the temple through the main gate, Jinnein is the temple to the left and Kanonji is the temple to the right. For me, it was the other way around. With the exception of the ugly entrance to the hondo of Jinnein, the temples are nice.

Temple garden at Jinnein.


Osata-san had for sure taken another route to the temples, and was a little bit surprised when I showed him the route in my guidebook, it came up differently on his app. Leaving Kanonji, both temple and town (they share the name), the route follows the Saita river towards the next temple. It is nice to walk next to a river for a change, but be sure to take the quiet road on the southern side of the river. A small path seduces me to a visit to Kamara Jinja, where the main shrine building is covered with writing.

Riverwalk next to the Saita river.

It is not the rain that is the reason for why the large five-storied pagoda at Motoyamaji, #70 (Headquarters Temple), is covered by a huge tarpaulin. With my fascination of the pagodas, I feel sorry for not seeing it, but not sorry for it being renovated. Kōbō Daishi apparently built the hondo of the temple in one single night. At the temple I move from shelter to shelter, in the form of the awnings of the various buildings, to escape the rain. It is somewhat strange to think of that I have now visited 70 temples, it feels like time has flown by. Or it might be the feeling of the temples that affects me, as if time moves slower within them.

At Motoyamaji temple.

From Motoyamaji is is about 12km to Iyadaniji, which is where I need to go today. The weather has felt like an extra weight today, and so I am unsure if I will be in time. When I leave Motoyamaji, the clock has already passed two. What counts in my favor, is that the route appear to be going in an almost straight and flat line towards Iyadanisan, should be easy going. Even in the rain. Though time is truly relative when you throw my curiosity into the mix, as I go for a visit to the okunoin of Motoyamaji, named Myōonji. And then I miss the path, continuing on the road instead, which rewards me with a much needed coffee at a combini where I can relocate the path from again.

A somber horizon.

On the rest of the walk to Iyadaniji I walk past several small ponds, going mostly on small sideroads. It is quite plesant, even with the on and off rain. I catch up with Osata-san again, and we walk together the rest of the way, passing by several fields with the colourful cosmos-flowers. They stand in beautiful opposition to the heavy clouds that torments the mountains and hills in the horizon. On the final approach to the climb up to the temple there is a makeshift foot bath available for the henros with tired feet. If it where not for the weather, I would have made use of it.

A field of the colourful cosmos-flowers, not much colour in the background.

Osata-san will stay at the Fureai Park Mino, but I have an appointment at Iyadaniji. When Tomoyoshi Kubo and I parted ways at Tatsueji (on my fifth day), he gave me his business card and told me to call him when I arrived at temple 68, 69, 70 or 71. Yesterday, I gave him a call telling him that I would be at Iyadaniji at the end of my walk today. He would come and pick me up here, but first I want to take a quick look at the temple. Dusk is gathering through the rain when I climb up to the temple, with the sound of water all around me from the trees. From what I reach to see of the temple, it appear to be a wonderful temple. Then Tomoyoshi-san is calling, telling me he is waiting for me at the parking lot.

At Iyadaniji temple, visited the temple, but saved the temple rituals for tomorrow.

Walking down the staircase from Iyadaniji in the rain with the lamps lit.

It is really nice to meet Tomoyoshi-san again. From Iyadaniji he drives me to his regular spot, Tiaki (千明), treating me with a good dinner. It is quite funny, back home I did not eat sushi or sashimi, but now I have taken a liking to it. With the only limitation is that I can just eat the parts containing fish, and not anything else from the sea, being allergic. The owner of the place used to be a semi professional and university baseball player. After eating, we drive back to Tomoyoshi's house, where I finally can get a bath and change to dry clothes. Then we sit down talking, with some snacks and beer. I am humbled at his hospitality. It is a great ending of a rainy day.

Eating dinner together with Tomoyoshi-san.

I will sleep dry and well tonight, tomorrow the typhoon will hit for real.

<- AwaiMarugame ->

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for sharing. Can't wait to see how the last temples will go and how you feel as the pilgrimage draws to an end.