Friday, October 13, 2017

Ipponmatsu - Iwamatsu

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 23.
Temples: #40 (Kanjizaiji).
Distance: 36.4km (689.2km), time spent: 10:53.
Weather: Not bad at all.

Planning for the next days of the walk, I so wanted to hike the Sasayama-michi trail after visiting temple #40, Kanjizaiji. This route crosses over the Sasayama mountain at 1065m, if I go that way it will be the highest up I would have been so far. Hence, the view of the weather for the next days was a real punch in the face. Seeing it likely that I would hike over in really bad weather, I throw away that plan, opting for what I believe to be the normal choice of route after Kanjizaji. I have been at this theme before, but if I do this pilgrimage again, I vow to walk that way, over the mountain.

A bridge on the more quiet route between Ipponmatsu and Mishō.

Another idol.

You might get a little bit confused of all the various alternatives thrown at you at this part of the pilgrimage, but of course, one need to understand that each alternative will eventually bring you to the same goal. No choice is wrong, nor correct, you make up the walk as you go, sort of a test. From Ipponmatsu, the trail splits up in two, again. Quieter sideroads are more to my liking than busy roads, so I walk the northern route instead of the southern route going on the now well-known route 56. When reaching the riverbanks of the Sozu river, I have been walking on a mix of dormant small roads and tiny voyages through woods.

Herons on the Sozu River.

For all of the walk into Mishō, I walk next to the Sozu river, even if the trail actually does not. Flocks of herons are entertaining the river, fleeing at my approach, while looking scornfully at me for my intrusions. I meet Ika again. Unable to sleep good where he and Gil stayed, he had woken up and left early. Finding a place next to the river, he had laid down for an hour or so, sleeping. We go together to the temple that is the furthest away from the first temple, Ryōzenji. That is a milestone good as any.

Temple #40, Kanjizaiji, Ika walking towards the hondo.

The small pagoda at Kanjizaiji.

Kanjizaiji (The Temple of Kannon) is a good temple. It has a Hachitai-butsu statue that is said to fulfill your wish if its covered with water, but for that it needs to be raining. It does not rain. My wish would be that it would not be raining, so that I could hike the Sasayama-michi trail, but for my wish to come true it must be raining. Besides that, the temple is a nice oasis in the middle of a small town.

A lamp made of Fugu fish (pufferfish), hopefully the light from the lamp is not as poisonous as the fish can be if it is prepared the wrong way.

Ika mending one of his slippers.

Always having trouble knowing how to say it, I ask Ika for the correct pronounciation of ‘uyauyashiku’. This is the first word in the gassho, which is the first thing you do in the order of resiting the Sutras. For this you should place the palms of your hands together and hold your hands in front of your chest with your thumbs facing toward you. Then you bow three times and for each time say ‘uyauyashiku mihotoke wo reihai shitatematsuru’ (I have come to reverently worship the Buddha). Ika confirms that it is a difficult word, but resites it to me. I will probably forget it later.

Islands and the Uwa-kai sea.

Ika and me before going our separate ways.

Ika walks almost barefoot so to speak, with only a pair of really tiny slippers as footwear. If I had done that, this would have been a real ascetic training. Although, we has to stop two times for him to fix a broken string on one of the slippers. While walking we come into the topic of the numerous wending machines found in Japan, covering almost any needs imaginable, he tells me that you can also find porn books wending machines.

Not difficult to know where the Kashiwazaka Trail starts.

The Murote coast has some nice views over the Uwa-kai sea, with small islands jutting out of the ocean like huge shark fins. In a small town from where the trail heads up into the mountains on the Kashiwazaka Trail, Ika and I split up. I would have loved to keep on walking together with him, but our plans differ too much. He aims for the Sunokawa Park, which is a recommended place to camp, but that is on the Shikoku-no-michi route following the coast and not the henro trail I am following.

View from the Kashiwazaka Trail.

Light on the ocean.

The Kashiwazaka Trail provides me with some sort of relief from missing out on my wanted route. Although at first, it appears as another path that is pleasing, winding itself upward through forests and hills, but lacking in views. Mysterious as always, quite steep as always. I eat my lunch in a resthut at Yanaginomizu Daishi. A short downwards detour bring me to another tiny shrine, Shimizu Daishi. It would be nice seeing a ceremony or something at these shrines I pass by, observing what they are there for.

Kashiwazaka Trail.

Then all of a sudden, I come to an open section of the path with a wonderful and unexpected view of the sea and Uchiumi-wan bay. The colour of the sky is changing while I stand admiring the view, taking on a hint of purple in its hue. Time is wasted, but it is a great waste of time. I love these kinds of unexpected experiences. Walking on a high on the way down, the only thing bothering me is a part where the waymarking is bad, making me nervous if I am on the right way. I come out ok, coming down to what looks like a backwater part of Shikoku.

An old lantern and stairs leading up to a shrine.

Still a way to go, I know that this would be another day where I arrive late at my accommodation. Truthfully so, the sun is in decline when I arrive in Iwamatsu. By recommendation of Akebono-sō, I had booked at Ōhata Ryokan. However, the host does not appear to be annoyed in any way that I arrive late, but he is eager to hush me into the bath. I have no trouble trying to accommodate that wish, I yearn for a bath myself.

Good taste in a store or café in Iwamatsu.

The host is very friendly and the dinner is absolutely delicious. Another good day, but I have decided to take a rest day tomorrow. Not saying that I will not walk, that I will do, but not so long. I have the city of Uwajima in mind, about fifteen kilometers from here.

Food at Ōhata Ryokan.

<- IpponmatsuUwajima ->


  1. What are you using to find these alt routes

  2. Hi, all the alternative (and official) routes I found are marked on the maps in the English guidebook to the pilgrimage. Which route I in the end chose was based on what I believed to be the nicest one.