Sunday, October 29, 2017

Iyadaniji - Marugame

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 39.
Temples: #71-77 (Iyadaniji, Mandaraji, Shusshakaji, Kōyamaji, Zentsūji, Konzōji, Dōryūji).
Distance: 21.5km (1128.5km), time spent: 8:42.
Weather: Typhoon, clearing up later.

During the night, the typhoon arrived in full and I awoke to the sound of the wind and rain pounding at the windows and walls of Tomoyoshi's zenkonyado. As a result, the house was full of creaking noises. I was happy that it was too early to stand up and that I could wrap my blanket even tighter around me, and postpone the inevitable wet journey I had in front me a little. Of course, when the morning light finally arrives, although not in this part of Shikoku, I have to stand up. Tomoyoshi-san then drives me back to Iyadaniji after breakfast. It is raining heavily.

Kongōkyo Bosatsu at Iyadaniji.

I think his hospitality is encouraging me onward on this day. Already on the climb up again to Iyadaniji are the stairs covered by water, at the point of turning into a river. It is fascinating to see how much greener the vegetation around appear in rain, as if the green colour is being enhanced at the touch of water. Iyadaniji (#71), Eight Valley Temple, becomes the mysterious cloudy temple in the rain. A path and then some stairs at the back of the first level of the temple leads up to the hondo higher up. Carved into the sides of the cliffs are statues and idols, with small shrines found underneath the cliffs. From the hondo I can stare out into a grey void, with cloudy tentacles crawling up the forested hillsides.


Looking inside the hondo of Iyadaniji.

At the daishido you have to take off your shoes to enter, which I momentarily forgets and gets an instant rebuke from one of the monks. I bow and say gomennasai to express my apology, but he just smiles back and waves me on. The reason you have to take off your shoes is that to conduct the temple-rituals at the daishido, you have to step inside of it. Which is nice given that it is raining a lot. I bet that this wonderful temple has more to offer than what I get to see, paths and byways obscured by the clouds and rain.

Forest path after Iyadaniji.

I make sloshing noises when I walk on the path through the bamboo forest after Iyadaniji, no wonder that, as the path is wet and muddy from the rain. And slippery, but thankfully no korogashi. It is not a long walk, tightly wrapped up in my raingear, to the next temple. Which is Mandaraji (#72), Mandala Temple. It is a nice, but quite confined temple, making the pouring rain feeling confined within its walls too. Now, just standing under cover and listening to the sounds the rain is making is actually quite relaxing.


At the entrance of Shusshakaji.

Shusshakaji (#73), The Temple of Shaka Nyorai's Appearance, lies just a stone's throw away from Mandaraji so to speak. Not just one, but two Kōbō Daishis, greets you at the entrance of this temple, which is quite small. It provides a nice place to rest at, with tables and benches, all under cover. The temple was actually first located at the top of the mountain that I can barely see from here, but was moved down here to make it easier for the pilgrims. I would like it to still be up there, so I could get an excuse to climb up, even in the rain. Now, I just stand looking longingly up at the shrouds wrapping in the mountain, knowing that I will not be seeing the okunoin of Shusshakaji this time, Shashingadake Zenjō.

At Kōyamaji.

Today became quite the blur, especially at the start of the day, I guess the rain is to blame. I walk quickly, passing from temple to temple, possible missing seeing things that I normally would have spotted. Kōyamaji (#74), Armor Mountain Temple, is next up. This is the temple where the rain is at its most intense, making it hard to conduct the rituals, even under what little shelter I can find. I like the shrine tucked away underneath a round structure in the rocks.

Zentsūji, Tanjoin.

While arriving in Zentsūji, both town and temple (#75, Right Path Temple), the rain ceases a little, but in its wake the number of people increases. This is by far the biggest temple on the pilgrimage so far, no wonder, given it is the birthplace of Kōbō Daishi. The name is derived from his father, Yoshimichi, which means Right Path. Not only one templegrounds, but two, Tanjoin and Garan; separated by a small road. A muted and laidback tone is found at the temple now, as the surroundings feels quite bleak in this weather.

Zentsūji, Garan.

Despite that it is far more people here than usual at a temple, it is far from overcrowded, or crowded at all. There are also some foreign tourists here walking the premises. Visiting the temple means some walking, due to it size, and there is a lot to see. If I have understood it correctly, the hondo of Zentsūji lies in Garan and the daishido lies in Tanjoin (called Miedo). Five stories tall stands the pagoda here, although with this background it does feel a little bit like a cool dark tower. Here also are numerous Gohyaku-Rakan statues, all following me with their intense expressions as I leave the temple. First thing I do afterwards is going to a 7/11 for some lunch and getting some warmth back in my body.


On the way to Konzōji, I realize that I forgot to visit the Kaidan Meguri at Zentsūji, which is a pitch black tunnel going under one of the buildings of the temple (a walk of faith). At Konzōji (#76), Golden Storehouse Temple, I am almost alone. Not surprisingly, I have not seen many other henros today. Here the temple buildings are nice, but common in appearance. What I like at this temple is the numerous tress spread out across the templegrounds, there appear to be a purpose of where they have been planted.

Receding typhoon.

Kuzuharashohachimangu shrine.

It is wonderful to see the change happening on the sky as I make my way further, seeing colours coming back to life again as the typhoon is passing away. Contours and shapes in the background becoming visible again, even light from a sun hidden somewhere. It is making my stay at Dōryūji (#77), The Temple of Arising Way, marvellous. As blue sky appear on the sky and sunlight illuminates the temple. And it has a miniature-pagoda as well. I am happy at this temple.

Kōbō Daishi at Dōryūji.

The rest of the walk to Marugame should be an easy walk, but even though I have not walked a long distance today, I feel tired and the way feels like it takes forever. This I can attribute to the typhoon. Arriving at my hotel in the centre of Marugame feels good, APA Hotel. The two Japanese henros and Russian henro that I have met earlier are also at the hotel. It has a private onsen at the top floor with views overlooking the city, oh joy. It cannot be accentuated how good a visit to a Japanese bathhouse is after a walk, especially a wet one.

A shadow of a tree on a wall of a Dōryūji templebuilding.

For dinner I go out to a recommended place by the hotel, Honetsukidori Ikkaku, where I eat a rather good chicken dinner. And they have dark beer too (which I like). In front of Marugame Train Station and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Genichirō-Inokuma) there are stones glowing in the dark.


Marugame in the evening, the glowing stones in front of Genichirō-Inokuma (the Museum of Contemporary Art).

I visited seven temples today, and did not rush it at all at the temples either. I do not know how I made it, but it is a good sign that I have become comfortable with the temple-rituals now.

Video by Naomi showing the stairs up to Iyadaniji has almost become a river.

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