Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Iyo Miyoshi - Hōjuji

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 34.
Temples: #60-61 (Yokomineji, Kōonji).
Distance: 33.3km (989.2km), time spent: 10:33.
Weather: Slightly overcast.

I slept quite well in the small zenkonyado of Kōmyōji, but become a little bit disgruntled when I look outside. The blue sky and sun from yesterday has gone, leaving behind another cloudy sky. It is not so good news for what I have in mind for the upcoming days. Otsu-san leaves early in the morning, as I knew he would, and is out of the door before I start eating my breakfast.

The zenkonyado at Kōmyōji.

It is considered impolite to leave behind your trash when you are staying at a zenkonyado, so I have to take it with me. And I am so stupid not to go back to the supermarket where I probably could find a garbage can for it, and instead set off in the hope of finding a place to dispose of my garbage soon. I am wrong. There are no garbage cans to find in Japan anywhere, at least not for the public. There are no combinis nearby either, I know I could dispose of it at one of those. For more than seven kilometres I go with the bag of garbage in my hand. When I see something I would like to take a photo of, I dump the bag on the ground, go to take the picture, and pick up the bag afterwards (no, I am not going to sort of 'forget it' or dump it somewhere). Some other henro mentioned to me that this was due to the terrorist attack in the Tokyo Subway a long time ago, where the terrorists used the garbage bins as placeholders for their sarin gas bombs. After that, most of the garbage bins was removed from the public.

Wonderful light over the mountains in the morning, even though it is not sunny.

Despite that it is not sunny, the light and sheen on the sky is beautiful.

Ikiki Jizō, bekkaku temple #11.

Ikiki Jizō is the bekkaku temple #11, known for its statue of Jizō Bosatsu carved into the camelia tree on the temple grounds. It appear to be some time since that tree stood tall in the templegrounds though. The temple is easy to spot in the middle of the flat area by the cluster of trees it is located at. The trees also contains a Shinto shrine, which is of course accessible by the usual long staircase. That such a low hill could contain so many steps is quite the little mystery.

On the road leading up into the mountains, on the walk towards Yokomineji.

I will pass by, or rather climb over, another mountain today and as always I am really expectant to the climb. After stocking up at a Family Mart, I head for the mountains, now covered in clouds. The path up in the mountains towards Yokomineji goes at first on a road, gradually going upwards, gradually losing houses on each side, venturing into the unknown. At one side of the road there is a yellow and red building looking like a pagoda, though I doubt it belong to a temple or shrine. Later on, on the other side of the road there is a small café that has a car inside of it.

The forest path up to Yokomineji, going next to a large creek.

Then the road abruptly ends and it is henro-korogashi time again. And it is not difficult to understand why, even the stony staircases leading up to the actual forest path are flowing over with water. As I knew it would be, the path up is steep, going next to a large creek for most of the walk. In between crossing over the fast-running water on small bridges. And whether it is because I am sweating in the effort of the climb or due to the high humidity, probably both, all my clothes gets quite wet. And then the three structure of the daimon of the temple stands above me, after a great walk up to the Peak Temple, Yokomineji (#60). It is located at 709m.

Approaching the temple gate of Yokomineji.

Before anything at the temple, I sit down in the nice hut next to the nōkyōchō-office building. Up here there is a draft coming from the wind, and it is chillying me down. In fact, it causes my stupid Raynauds syndrome fingers to kick in, temporarily reducing the blood circulation in my fingers, they are turning white. Which causes some amusement between the other henros at the hut, who finds it funny that I as a 'viking' from Norway freezes here. I am quite accustomed to this happening, so I cannot do anything but joining in on the amusement. Another amusing thing is that some of the henros here are the two Japanese henros I first saw at Akebono-sō some twelve days ago, now joined by a Russian henro.


I conduct the temple rituals while my fingers are still numb. In fact, they would be for quite some time. It is a peaceful temple, considered to be most difficult nansho on the pilgrimage. While the young munk draws the calligraphy in my nōkyōchō, I use the hairdryer to warm my fingers on. The hairdryer is provided to dry the calligraphy on the scroll or vest if you make use of that instead of the book as proof of your pilgrimage. My original plan was to walk the Moe-zaka slope towards Ishizuchisan after visiting Yokomineji, as I have in mind climbing that mountain. The plan was to stay at one of the accommodations near the foot of the climb up to the summit, but I had been unable to come in contact with any of them. It appear that Kōbō Daishi has watched over me again, as I learn from the munk that the Moe-zaka slope is closed since it has been damaged in the recent typhoon and it is not possible to walk on that path. The munk helps me with getting a place to stay in Saijō for the night instead.

Hoshigamori, okunoin to Yokomineji. Ishuzuchisan obscured by the clouds.

Deprived of the hike on the Moe-zaka slope, I still climb up to where the path starts off from. There, above the temple, on the ridge, lies the okunoin of Yokomineji. Called Hoshigamori. In clear weather, you would get a great view of the great mountain itself. From a pretty little torii, which I thought would be larger when I saw a picture of it. Now, the highest mountain in Western Japan lies hidden in the clouds. It is still a wonderful site.

A line of toriis, near Yokomineji.

My fingers are still numb when I make for the path down again, with my only concern being that I miss the path going past Shirataki. The path appears to be in all matters of state, easy to walk on, messy, through overturned trees. At one point the trail is going through an open area due to foresting, making for some great views of the mountains, only marred by the powerlines across the landscape. Pushing through vegetation, I find a small clearing with a good view of the sea and the flat area below. Needless to say that I enjoy the walk.

The descent to Kōonji, part of the path is open due to forest works.

Shirataki is the okunoin of the next temple, Kōonji. It is a fantastic site, next to a waterfall. Guarding the waterfall from the top there is a fierce Fudō Myōō statue, with his two young boy servants known as Kimkara and Cetaka.

Shirataki, okunoin to Kōonji.

By the time I arrive at temple #61, Kōonji (Incense Garden Temple), the clock has passed half past four. I have spent a lot longer time than I thought I would. This temple is the strangest temple so far. It does not appear anything like any of the other temples, being a huge concrete building. I wonder why they built it like this. When I ask for where the hondo and daishido are, the staff points me to a open door in the large building, telling me that they are both there. It is not until afterwards that I understand that the hondo is the large hall at the second floor inside the building, and the daishido was where I conducted the rituals twice at.

Kōonji, this temple is nothing near the other temples on the pilgrimage.

There were no sun today, but it still goes down in flames behind the mountains. I have no time to reach Hōjuji, and I also takes a wrong turn on the way, but I still end the walk of today at the temple. That is, outside the temple, this is the first one I have seen where the actual temple is closed off. Convenient for me, as it is located next to the Iyo Komatsu train station. I have time to walk to the nearby Lawson for a cup of coffee and some sweet mochi before I catch the train to Saijō.

Sunset near Kōonji.

After I have checked in at my hotel, H. Oraire Saijō, and getting a shower, I go out for dinner. Asking the staff at the hotel for recommendations, they point me to an izakaya close-by that is named 36, which is spot-on for what I wanted. The big bowl of udon with meat and accessories is delicious. They say it is going to be sun tomorrow, so for me there is a large mountain looming in the horizon.

At a Lawson Station.

<- Iyo MiyoshiIshizuchisan ->


  1. Thanks for your story! I recognize all of it, hoe I walked up to T60 in Fall 2015. But not the nadat Raynaud fingers, I had that when I was young, but now in my sixties it is over, so you never know it will happen to you as well.

    I look forward to read about your Ishizuchisan adventure.
    I hope I can hike there when from Hoshigamori in Fall this year.

    1. Good to hear that you no longer are afflicted with Raynaud, it's sometimes very annoying (especially for me that loves crosscountry-skiing), so it might be hope that I can get rid of it as well.
      Yes, I was a little bit disappointed in not being able to go towards Ishizuchisan on that path, but that is sometimes part of the game. Hopefully, the path over the Moe-zaka slope will be open again (if not already).