Friday, October 6, 2017

Shōryūji - Susaki

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 16.
Temples: None.
Distance: 30.8km (454.5km), time spent: 9:47.
Weather: Heavy rain.

Rain was forecasted for today and it came true in style. And I was nowhere near happy for it, as the description in the guidebook promised a walk on hilly roads with breathtaking views. This time I would not be partially lucky either, as I had been when I walked the Minami-awa Sun Line now some days ago, where I only got rain in the latter part of the walk. Today, I would walk the full front of it from the start. Kobayashi and Ujeda had their sights on the ferry across Uranouchi Bay.

Walking above the coves and coast of the Yokonami Sanri.

At times, just walking on a wet road with views obscured by the rainclouds....

Even if the walk is on a road, it soon became clear that this would be a wonderful walk when the weather is nice. Now rain lashes down upon me, the road and the coast with an unquelching hunger for wetness. And even then it is beautiful, with all the coves, small bays and hills coming in and out of the view. Obscured by clouds and rain, then visible again. Inside the small coves there are small sandy beaches that would be tempting in hot weather. Sometimes I can glimpse the inland as well, with the grey cold look of the Uranouchi Bay appearing for a very short time. The scenic road around the Yokonami Sanri peninsula is about 19km long.

Of course, it is raining constantly with no respite and there is no escaping getting wet. A phonebooth even function as a temporary shelter. Fortunately, there are almost no cars driving on the road while I walk on it, so I escape those additional sprays passing by. Cold and wet, I find a mix of a coffee shop and artisan craft shop near Sakauchi, providing me with a much wanted hot coffee and break from the outside weather. Glad to have walked this way anyway.

...for the coves and capes appearing out of the mist and rain again.

Uranouchi Bay.

Contrary to what most others would have done, I then steer towards Uranouchi, not taking the route marked as the shortest way to temple nr. 37 (Iwamotoji). Now going sort of backwards on the pilgrimage, I encounter Kobayashi and Ujeda, both with a quirky smile on their faces when I tell them where I plan to go. In a way, they are correct, most people would have taken the shortest route in this deluge. For the short time I walk in the opposite direction, I can look out over towards Yokonami Sanri across the bay. In Uranouchi there is a small shop where I can buy food for my planned lunch later.

For my plan, I intend to walk over the mountain (more like a hill of course, but they seem to call it mountains here) on the road marked as 314 on the map, rather than the normal route following the Oshioka River towards Susaki. The lunch I bought in the store, I eat in a resthut up in the valley. The hut has walls around it, so it has good shelter from the rain and wind, and so can also be used to sleep in if you are allowed to.

Eating lunch in a resthut.

On an abandoned looking road up into the hills above Uranouchi, on the way to Susaki past the Hotokezaka Fudōson temple.

Walking further up into the hills is like walking on a forgotten, secluded and abandoned road. Disappearing from the eyes of the civilization, with the feeling of being watched by bandits and highwaymen. Passing by several cavities looking like storerooms in the sides of the road, some of them empty, some of them full with garbage, some of them appearing like homes for bums or outcasts. More and more of the road disappearing.

At the top, the path quickly and steeply descends slippery down to the Hotokezaka Fudōson (Iwa-fudō) temple. In the rain and surrounding forest it is a strange and mysterious place, looking a little bit haunted. No one there but me. At the main altar there is a stone that looked like it had a Fudō-statue engraved on it. From Hotokezaka Fudōson, the route goes down in a mistclad valley underneath the ceaseless rain, arriving at the Sakura River.

The beginning of the steep path down to Hotokezaka Fudōson.

Hotokezaka Fudōson in the rain

The walk through Susaki is a long one and it gets longer as the waymarking is rather confusing here, if it exists at all, forcing me to retrace my steps at a time (I believe that the trail has been rerouted as the waymarkers does not correspond to the path in the guidebook). Not to mention that it is when walking through the town that the rain intensifies to its most fierce of the day. I am soaking wet. Though for a short moment before I entered the town, the rain seemed to abate, it was just to give me a small hope, squelching it immediately after as rain plummeted even harder.

A stone at the altar in Hotokezaka Fudōson that appeared to have had a Fudō-statue engraved on it.

No main temples today, as there is a two-day journey from Shōryūji to Iwamotoji. In Susaki there is however one of the bekkaku temples, Daizenji. When I ask for confirmation that I am at the temple, the munk at the office says it is closed. Walking away, I understand that he meant the elevator up to the temple buildings on top of the small hill it is situated on, not the temple. I do not mind climbing up the stairs upon which the rainwater now is flowing down at. It is a nice temple overlooking both the town and some of the bay outside. In a foolish endeavour, I venture further up into the hill, past a shrine overgrowing and to a fruitless slog.

In Susaki, I stay at the Minshuku Hikari. Everything I have on me except the inner layer of clothes gets hang up to dry, including the backpack. The rest is fed to the washing machine, as I am fed to the hot bath. Quite dangerous in a way, it is so easy to fall asleep as warmth finally embraces your body again.

A grey and rainy scenery near Susaki after coming down from the hills.

Daizenji, bekkaku #5.

I had been told that I could not get dinner at the minshuku, which means that I have to go to a place to eat, I am not so excited of that prospect in this weather now. However, that was all due to a misunderstanding. When I informed the minshuku (or actually, the people at Kokumin-shukusha Tosa did) that I cannot eat anything from the sea, except fish; they understood it as I could not eat fish either. They had quite some food left, which they are happily giving me, so it worked out fine. I eat at the table together with the friendly host of the place, Yutaka Shimomoto and a friend of the family, who is also serving me a couple of cold beers as well.

Torii and an overgrown shrine above Daizenji in Susaki.

A wet and windy day for sure, first along the coast on the beautiful Yokonami Sanri, and then the walk over the forgotten mountain pass to Hotokezaka Fudōson, ending in a rainy assault through Susaki. If I forget about the cold and wetness, I will recall this walk as wonderful.

<- ShōryūjiIwamotoji ->


  1. And here's how far I made on my first part. I had to stop somewhere after #36 only getting ~6 or so kilometers of that same route. It IS wonderful views on good weather and I was so annoyed that out of all the roads my ankle could have given up it had been this one.

    1. Sorry to hear that you had to give up, did you return later and finished the pilgrimage or are you planning to go back? The views were wonderful even in the bad weather, so no wonder that it would be even better under a clear blue sky.

    2. Well it was only giving up 6 days ahead of schedule. I never had plans to go past temple 39 on that go as time would have been up then anyway. well maybe one or two day I might have had but as 39 is conveniently next to train station it made sense to stop there. I could have continued even now but that would have meant using bus to get out and back to continue rather than train so stopped at Susaki rather than temple 38 I probably would have made to.

      I'll be going back the moment I can get holiday from work. Alas it looks like july. This time aiming to go to around Yokomineji dropping pace a bit to keep ankle working and to account for heat finishing up full thing next year.