Henro Day 34: July 24

Utazu (瀬戸大橋四国健康村) →Goshikidai Plateau Henro Hut (五色台遍路小屋) Temples: 78 Gōshō-ji (郷照寺), 79 Tennō-ji (天皇寺), 80 Sanuki Kokubun-ji (讃岐国分寺), 81 Shiromine-ji (白峯寺), 82 Negoro-ji (根香寺) Weather: Sunny Travel Method: Walking Distance: 29km All the other capsules remain silent as crawl out of my cozy unit-bed. The room is a contained, detached darkness lit by a glow of mini LEDs on the floor. I push open the door and exit into the lit world with carpets and pastel beige colours. I pop downstairs to the onsen for a morning soak, pack my bag, and I’m out in the lobby to meet Aurelie, Kouhei, and Edvaldo. In total, we’ve spent barely…

Henro Day 33: July 23

Fureai Park-mino (ふれあいパークみの) → Utazu (瀬戸大橋四国健康村) Temples: 72 (Mandara-ji 曼荼羅寺), 73 (Shusshakaji 出釈迦寺), 74 Kōyama-ji (甲山寺), 75 (Zentsū-ji 善通寺), 76 (Konzō-ji 金倉寺), 77 (Dōryū-ji 道隆寺) Weather: Sunny with Clouds Travel Method: Walking Distance: 24.8 km Last night averaged out alright. After being turned away by Iyadani-ji, I relaxed in the onsen down the hill, snacked on o-settai cookies, napped on a lounge chair until midnight, and found a covered bench beside the onsen entrance, sheltered from the rain, as my final sleeping spot. What more could I ask for? It’s another night in the memory bank. Time passed, not quickly, not slowly, not relaxed enough…

Henro Day 32: July 22

Kanonji City (観音寺市) → Fureai Park-mino (ふれあいパークみの) Temples: 66 Unpen-ji (雲辺寺), 67 Daikō-ji (大興寺), 71 Iyadani-ji (弥谷寺) Weather: Cloudy + Drizzles Travel Method: Walking (+Car, Cable Car, Train) Distance: 19.2 (+40km) It’s 8:10am and I drop my bags on Jizo‘s lap. This is the same Jizo statue I’d always give a nod to even when I was reduced to mechanical reflex by heat and exhaustion. Why were there so many benches at the base of the trail and none up here when you really need it? Despite getting a ride to the trailhead of Unpen-ji, by the time I got out my mosquito incense just 15 minutes after…

Henro Day 31: July 21

Shikokuchuo City (四国中央市) –> Kanonji City(観音寺市) Temples: 68 Jinne-in (神恵院), 69 Kannon-ji (観音寺), 70 Motoyama-ji (本山寺) Weather: Cloudy + Drizzles Travel Method: Walking (+Car, Cable Car, Train) Distance: 19.2 (+40km) Two big, heavy, onigiri courtesy of the hotel! I stow them in my backpack and finish the rest of my cheese and bread breakfast in the lobby. The guest laundry is waving outside on the veranda. I message friends using the hotel WiFi. An hour drips by. The more I sit, harder it is to dislodge myself. I’d originally planned to detour 2 kilometres for an onsen en route, but I probably won’t have time anymore….

Henro Day 30: July 20

Iyo-Doi (伊予土居) → Shikokuchuo City (四国中央市) Temples: 65 Sankaku-ji (三角寺) Weather: Sunny with Showers Travel Method: Walking Distance: 25   ばかはろくでもないものにかねをつかう、賢いやつはじぶんの成長のためにつかう。おとこのかちはかねの使い方でわかるもんさ。 The fool will spend his money on worthless things. The wise will spend his money to better himself. A man’s worth can be measured by how he spends his money. – Silverspoon (2013) I wake up with the sound of footsteps outside. The station has a pale golden glow just before sunrise. Well, I might as well get up to air out the sweat on my back and face from sleeping. I didn’t have a blanket, but the mosquito net that I cocooned myself…

Henro Day 29: July 19

Imabari City (今治市) → Ishizuchiyama (石鎚山) → Iyo-Doi (伊予土居) Temples: None Weather: Sunny with Showers Travel Method:  Walking (Train from Imabari to last point at Temple 64) Distance: 29 I really wish I had enough sleep. But, I also wouldn’t trade the apple crumble we made for another two hours. 6:30am breakfast is so late for a henro and too early for a nomad who wants to nest temporarily. It’s Akiko’s 365-Day Breakfast Special, in her own words. Special every day, methinks.  Just as I’m finishing up, Tsuneto comes with a severe face. ‘Aa-chan, you’ll be late for your train!’ Aa-chan is…

Henro Day 28: July 18

Iyo-Miyoshi (伊予三芳) → Imabari City (今治市) Temples: 60 Yokomine-ji (横峰寺) Weather: Sunny Travel Method:  Walking (Train Return to Imabari) Distance: 26.8km (+15.8km) 5:00am wake up. In about 10 minutes, my messy spread has disappeared into my backpack. It makes me wonder why I even have those things – even a backpack feels like an excess now.  Small moments like these get me. They make me pause, feeling like I’ve shed another shell, but don’t have clear enough vision to see what the old one was like. Things are changing so fast. The thought just leaps out of nowhere. But never mind, it’s 5:30am and…

Henro Day 27: July 17

Imabari City (今治市) →  Iyo-Miyoshi (伊予三芳) Temples: 64 Maegami-ji (前神寺), 63 Kichijō-ji (吉祥寺), 62 Hōju-ji (宝寿寺), 61 Kōon-ji (香園寺) Weather: Rain Travel Method:  Train + Walking Distance: 8.2km (+15.8km) The train lines are down until at least noon. I finally respond to a message from Aurelie, the French henro I’d met back in Shishikui. She messaged me from Cape Ashizuri a few days ago, then disappeared after I messaged her back in Matsuyama. Her latest message asks me where I am, and that she’d take a train immediately to join me. Unfortunately, there is no train for her to catch this morning, and she can’t join me where…

Henro Day 26: July 16

Imabari City (今治市) Temples: 57 Eifuku-ji (栄福寺), 58 Senyū-ji (仙遊寺), 59 Iyo Kokubun-ji (伊予国分寺) Weather: Rain + Typhoon Travel Method:  Walking + Train return to Imabari Distance: 16.8km   Typhoon day! It’s forecasted to make landfall tonight, so I still have the morning to visit the temples clustered around Imabari. My hosts, having walked the Ohenro themselves, urge me to get up earlier.     I crawl out of bed at 6:30 for breakfast as I’d promised Akiko. She’s humming away, asking if I want coffee, and tells me to eat first. She gets a warmed up dinner roll and a tray of condiments. Orange juice…

Henro Day 25: July 15

Iyo-wake (伊予和気) → Imabari City (今治市) Temples: 52 Taisan-ji (太山寺), 53 Enmyō-ji (圓明寺), 54 Enmei-ji (延命寺), 55 Nankōbō (南光坊), 56 Taisan-ji (泰山寺)  Weather: Sunny Travel Method:  Walking + Train + Walking Distance: 23.6km (+33km)  Night is longest just before dawn. I grab another shirt to complete the makeshift blanket.  At 5:30, as a yellow glow appears on the horizon, I get up for the last time. Unable to find a suitable nojuku spot, I ended up at a Family Mart close to Temple 53. I spent the remainder of the night flipping between magazines indoors, and napping outside with the mosquitos.  Even though it’s not open yet, I go to Temple 53 to do my prayers. I…