Saturday, October 21, 2017

Horie - Imabari

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 31.
Temples: #54 (Enmeiji).
Distance: 34.6km (912.8km), time spent: 10:08.
Weather: Heavy rain.

I miss the hot bath from yesterday evening already when taking the first step of todays walk. As expected it started raining the moment I started to walk. It did not rain when I woke up though. Breakfast was the usual kind of several small and tasty dishes, but I still leave the cluster of microscopic whole fish alone. The kind hostess at Gongen-sansō get one of the people working at the place to drive me back down to the train station at Horie, I am so grateful for this that I give her one of the persimons I got yesterday. I also give one to another guest here that made a reservation at a hotel in Imabari for me in his name. It has suddenly become so much harder booking places to stay.

The walk out from Horie next to the bleak sea in the morning is far from cheery.

If the weather was bleak yesterday, it is nothing short of grim today. I walk between the sea and the road, both threatening to drench me with water. From the sea it is the waves and wind that forms the threat, from the road it is the cars passing by at high speed. Looking out over the sea is almost like what you will see in a whiteout in a blizzard, almost as if the sea and sky blends together, a greyout you might say. Faint outlines of the hills on the other side of the bay are visible, somewhere among them is Kyōgamori, not visible. A lone fisherman is out fishing from his boat, he does not look like he is enjoying it, not that I can blame him. Although, the catch may be good. I hope he gets some for his effort in this weather.

A lone fisherman out in the bay.

I stop by almost every combini store that I came by, not almost every one, I stop by every one. These small interludes from the rain are much welcome. I buy a cup of coffee at each one, a hot drink is just so good in this weather. The coffee may not be the best coffee according to the afficiados, but I care little for that, and they are so cheap. Good thing that I am walking for a long time, I can feast on the more sweet stuff too.

View from Kōnosaka Slope.

The interior of the Daishidō in Asanami that can be used by henros to spend the night.

By some strange fortune, the rain abruptly takes a break when I set forth on the passage over the Kōnosaka Slope. I had been sheltering from the rain at a combini, this time a Family Mart, when the sounds of the rain slowly faded. The walk over the slope is just a relatively short walk on narrow roads, but it is a pleasant walk in the absence of rain nevertheless. At a resting place with a portable toilet for henros, there is also quite the nice view of the hills and the sea. As if it has awaited my return, the rain starts again when I am down and back again at the sea.

A wonderful miniature shrine by the sea.

In Asanami there is a small shrine or Daishidō that also is available for henros to spend the night at. Not directly on the route, but I take a look at it. I truly love the hospitality that is shown by providing these places for the pilgrims. It is also a very nice place. The walk alongside the grey and gloomy sea continues, with the rain back in force, sometimes lashing continously at my face. Passing cars trying to do the same. I pass by one of the tiniest shrines I have ever seen on the pilgrimage, it is magnificent, it stands atop a tiny rock with stairs leading up to it that are bigger than the shrine itself.

At Ryu Shrine.

Further along the coast I see a small island. I break away from the trail to take a closer look, thinking it is the Hōjō Kashima island, I am forgetting that I have actually passed it by a time ago. The biggest problem on this stretch is that there are no combinis, somehow I have made a weird routine and now yearns for another break. I also need lunch. There are no combinis when you need them the most is my negative mind speaking. I do eventually get to a place to satisfy my hunger.

Tiny unnamed island.

I arrive at temple #54, Enmeiji (The Temple of Long Life), at four o´clock. I forget about the rain, I forget about the wet misery. Even if the other pilgrims here have come by car, as I have not seen any other henro when I have been walking, I welcome the sight of others. I feel the relaxing atmosphere of a temple descend upon me. Legend has it that several people tried to take the bell from the temple, but when they did so the bell would ring even when it was not touched. The sound it then made was like the word for home, inuru.

Another tiny shrine, this one with a considerable larger torii.

In the days before the rain, I had been planning to walk up to the okunoin of the temple. My normal curiosity at large again. If it was just another ordinary hill I would have let it go, but it is not. The inner sanctuary is situated at the top of Chikamiyama, a small mountain nearby. Enmeiji was actually situated on top of Chikamiyama first. My actual plan was just to walk to Enmeiji, then climb the mountain visiting the okunoin, then take the bus down to Imabari afterwards, returning tomorrow morning. I disregard that plan now, too wet and tired.

At Enmeiji.

The walk down from Enmeiji to Imabari is actually really nice. Passing by a fine park and a large cemetary on the way. Nothing extraordinary about my hotel for the night, Imabari Station Hotel, but that is quite far away from what I care about at this point, arriving at the final shelter from the rain. Getting into my dry clothes feels wonderful.

The hondo of Enmeiji.

I do it the simple way when it comes to dinner, I spotted a Coco Ichibanya curry place when walking into the city. That is where I go, it suits me perfectly now, the food is not bad actually. Then I buy some beers and snacks at a Lawson Station before I return to my hotel. The evening is spent with the hairdryer in one hand and a can of cold beer in the other hand. All my clothes were wet. I even put the hairdryer into my shoes. I guess the room does smell quite bad at this time.

Using the hairdryer to dry my wet shoes.

Weather tomorrow? Yeah, well, it is going to rain. No surprise there. Where I will go? That is a surprise, even to me, I do not know. Even with all the rain I do not feel bad about this day, as I look back at it from a place where I am dry and comfortable. I have been walking for a month now.

Imabari in the evening and typhoon.

<- HorieChikamiyama ->


  1. "It has suddenly become so much harder booking places to stay." <- was there any particular reason? Places just full? Places closed down?

    1. I was into that in an earlier post, but I got replies that it was no places available or that they didn't provide rooms for gaijins (foreigners). But I believe that mostly it was because of few places available, I think probably that many were hold up due to the miserable weather.