Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Chikurinji - Tanemaji

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 14.
Temples: #32-34 (Zenjibuji, Sekkeiji, Tanemaji).
Distance: 25.5km (397.8km), time spent: 7:34.
Weather: Superbly sunny.

Not a big room, but I slept good anyway. The mentioned rain yesterday must be a fluke, not a cloud on the sky outside. I have no clue really to where I go today, this being one of those days where I just let things go as they come. I know what I want to do first thing here in Kochi though.

Kochi Castle on the pavement in Kochi.

Kochi Castle.

For my plan, I reckon that I will have time enough to return to my room before checkout, so my stuff is left behind. I go to a nearby convenience store (Lawson Station), stock up on breakfast and then head for Kochi Castle. Not open of course when I arrive, as I arrive very early, but I still get to see the castle buildings from outside and I am happy to see it nevertheless. It is a nice castle, with good views of the city below. For us from the west, the ornamented buildings, styles of castles and temples, dragons and more, is fascinating. I eat my breakfast on a bench outside the castle, a good place.

Array of colorful cloths at Chikurinji.

Even with the visit to the castle, I am somewhat early off, at half past eight. Off meaning getting on a bus back to Chikurinji, one of those moments that you as foreigner tries to learn how the local customs functions. They are kind to us (or me), making sure that I get on the correct bus, which drops me off on the wrong side of the bridge. Not a problem that, I know the way from there. Taking my self back up on the way I came down, a nice walk too. Cannot help spending some time looking at the temple for the second time, meeting Osata-san and the young henro from yesterday again, which was nice.

Foraging in the Shimoda River.

Osata however has some problems with one of his knees, so he and the young henro opt for the road down from the temple, rather than the steep henro path. There are some alternatives to choose from when coming down to the Shimoda river, mine is given. At this time, you should know that I am really curious of me. This time it is the okunoin of the next temple (Zenjibuji), Yakushiji, that is pulling me away from the main route. This temple lies some kilometers away from the route. Walking towards it, I see some locals foraging in the river. Weather is nice, but the wind is quite fierce.

View from the Kannondō shrine. The henromichi goes next to the road visible in the middle of the picture, towards Zenjibuji near the coast.

Yakushiji is just an ordinary temple, nothing special about it, which leads me to seek out higher ground. Not knowing why exactly. Maybe in the hope of having the same kind of experience like yesterday at Bishamon-dō perhaps. I brush my way up the disused path up to a shrine above, Kannondō. Lots of spiderwebs with spiders in them on the way up, all neon ominous. Kannondō is like any other shrine, but there are some views to find at the place, which make for some consolidation for the time I spent going here.

Zenjibuji temple, notice the underpants on the Tanuki statue.

View from Zenjibuji.

Nothing really special about the walk today, but on the way to the first time I have to break my not taking any vehicle rule, temple #32 stands out as a beacon. Zenjibuji (The Temple of Ch'an Master's Peak) is situated on top of a somewhat solitary hill near the ocean. It is there to safeguard the ships out on the sea, so from the temple I have a good view over the Pacific and the beach below. Like #14 Jōrakuji, the temple grounds has kept some of its natural stony surface. Down from the hill, you can see the temple through a gap in the trees at the top.

A public transportation map at a busstop along the way. Now, which bus to take? And where am I exactly?

To get to temple #33, Sekkeiji, you have to take a ferry, though I was considering bypassing it, as there is another route crossing over the bay on a bridge, but Kobayashi-san had warned me that it was difficult to walk there. Ferry it is, after eating my convenience store lunch while waiting for it to arrive. It is Kobayashi-san, Ujeda-san, a cyclist and me on the ferry as it crosses over to the Nagahama Port from Tanezaki Port.

On the ferry to Nagahama Port with Ujeda-san and Kobayashi-san.

Sekkeiji (Snowy Cliff Temple) is a Zen temple, one of just three on the route, Fujiidera (#11) and Kokubunji (#15) the two others. It appears to be the endpoint for most of the other henros, as there is a popular accommodation next to the temple, Kōchi-ya. Both Kobayashi, Ujeda, Oseta and the young henro will be staying there. I deviate again, going further.

Seikkeiji, temple #33.

Now alone, I have a peaceful walk to where I hope to stay for the night. Going through a cultural landscape, past several rice and other types of fields. A schoolbus made to look like a whale. Then arriving at temple #34, Tanemaji (Sowing Seeds Temple). Where I asked the priest for permission to stay at the tsuyado at the temple, which is kindly given to me. Otsu-san is at the temple also and we will be sharing the tsuyado. Tsuyado is free accommodation for henros at temples, usually just a room with tatami mats. This one also has a shower and futons that the henros can use. The temple itself is popular for pregnant women who come to pray for an easy childbirth.

Kosodate Kannon at Tanemaji, a statue where people come to pray for safe childbirth, ladles with the bottom punched out marks a successful birth and is hung next to the statue.

In the evening, I go for a walk to a nearby village, Haruno, as the sun slowly sinks on the sky. There is a shop there and I need food for dinner, which I afterwards eat in the small vending machine store outside the temple, with chairs, tables and light inside. Not the most special day, but one of those days just going by in a pleasurely way.

Tanemaji in the evening.

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