Henro Day 37: July 27

Furu-Takamatsu (古高松) → Zoda Station (造田駅) → Tokushima Otsuru Ryokan (徳島市大鶴旅館) Temples: 87 (Nagao-ji 長尾寺), 88 (Ōkubo-ji 大窪寺) Weather: Sunny → Cloudy → Rain → Cloudy Travel Method: Train + Walking + Bus to Tokushima Distance: 17.6 (+ 5.2 km) 5:57. I see the pricing board in the train above the exit where the conductor takes the fare. Ehime and Kochi don’t have it. It’s on Tokushima trains. Wait, this train is going to Tokushima. So am I, except I’ll get off early and walk some 50 km. Significance is a function of self-inflicted hardship, indeed. I’ve been at this for over a month,…

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 24: July 14

Matsuyama City (松山市) → Kuma Kogen (久万高原) → Iyowake (伊予和気)  Temples: 44 Daihō-ji (大宝寺), 45 Iwaya-ji (岩屋寺) Weather: Sunny Travel Method:  Car + Light Walking Distance: (+42.6km) Today is a late day because Noriko-san, the Couchsurfing friend I’d met yesterday, is driving me up to Temples 44 and 45. Even though I was looking forward to a mountain trail between the two temples, a car is a much more realistic solution. I wake up late-ish, have breakfast, and repack all the things I’ve spread out over three beds my empty-shared room. The smell of mosquito incense is reassuringly thick, which means my tent will properly…

Henro Day 23: July 13

Matsuyama City 松山市 Temples: None Weather: Sunny with Clouds Travel Method:  Walking + Car Distance: None Glorious sleep, oh glorious sleep.  Real henro holiday. Henro-related things: zero. Today is errand day and lunch with a Couchsurfing host.  I drift into the living room, savour the yogurt, cereal, and cut fruits. I step outside onto the covered veranda and my laundry baked dry. Clean.  And it will stay clean for at least another day. Even the thought makes me giddy. I head out in search of a barber to shave my head. In this summer heat, even 2-inches has a noticeable difference….

Henro Day 20: July 10

Hirata Station 平田 → Michi-no-Eki Mima 道の駅みま Temples: 39 (Enkō-ji 延光寺), 40 (Kanjizai-ji 観自在寺) Weather: Sunny with Clouds Travel Method:  Walking + Train + Bus + Train Distance: 12 km (+78.1km) Tired of trying to sleep, I get up at 4:30am. I spent the past four hours lying on the hard plastic chairs – the ones that curve up into ridges – on the platform waiting room at Hirata station. I learned that the lights stay on for about an hour after the last train. The 3am and dawn were chilly. Outside it’s just a uniform darkness sprinkled with a handful of street lamps outlining angular contours. I walk down…

Henro Day 11: July 1

Kochi City 高知市 Temples: 31 Chikurin-ji (竹林寺), 32 Zenjibu-ji (禅師峰寺) Weather: Cloudy with Sunny Parts Travel Method:  Walking Distance: 17.1 km My alarm goes off in the pitch-black room. I resent it with a passion I never felt when woken by sunshine and the cheerful birds after a sleepless nojuku night. In the fog of fatigue after a first good night’s rest, I drag myself out of the fluffy comforter and soft bed, change, and head downstairs for the complimentary breakfast. My breakfast was waiting for me on a table by the window. It’s a full Japanese breakfast with salmon, tsukemono, side dishes,…

Henro Day 7: June 27

Shishikui 宍喰 → Kiragawa 吉良川 Temples: 24 Hotsumisaki-ji (最御崎寺), 25 Shinshō-ji (津照寺), 26 Kongōchō-ji (金剛頂寺) Weather: Cloudy + Rain Travel Method: Bus + Walking Distance: (+40) 27 Morning. Fold futon. Curtains. Sunshine. It rained. Pack. Food. I move around as quietly as I can. Aurelie is still sleeping, and I enjoy extending the quiet as long as possible after crawling out of bed.  At some point, something clatters, and I hear Aurelie wake. Still, it doesn’t break my contented silence. That this may be rude drifts into my thoughts. I let the idea drift off the same way I have from society….

Henro Day 5: June 25

Anan City 阿南市 → Awa-Fukui 阿波福井→ Hiwasa City 日和佐市 Temples: 23 Yakuō-ji (薬王寺) Weather: Sunny + Cloudy Travel Method: Train + Walking Distance: (+14) 17.7 A clatter of voices and footsteps outside my door wakes me up. After it dies down, I roll over and push myself up groggily. I pack my bag and put the futon back onto a stack in the corner. There are only the items I’m mailing left out on the floor, and the nokyocho that I’m leaving for the Mizutanis. It’s the only small gesture of thanks I can give. I go to the kitchen to find it…

Henro Day 4: June 24

Anan City –> Katsuura –> Aratano –> Anan City Temples: 20(Kakurin-ji 鶴林寺), 21(Tairyuu-ji 太龍寺), 22 (Byoudou-ji 平等寺) Weather: Sunny + Cloudy Travel Method: Car + Walking + Car Distance: (+22) 17 Additional Resources: Map of Kamo-no-michi between Temples 21-23 (2016) The morning glow gradually fills my room, but I can’t shake the sleepy haze. Slowly, I feel the tightness of my thighs, the tense shoulder muscles. Suddenly, I feel my whole body as one heavy mass. Through the closed door, Ayumi’s gentle coaxing voice does a tango with Kotaro’s sputtered wails. In this room with a TV, surfboard, futons, and travel books, I feel…

Henro Day 3: June 23

Tokushima City 徳島市 → Anan City 阿南市 Temples: 18 Onzan-ji (恩山寺), 19 Tatsue-ji (立江寺) Weather: Sunny + Cloudy Travel Method: Train + Walking + Train Distance: (+12) 10.2 (+10) km It’s my first real day! I’m up before my alarm at dawn and get up to prepare breakfast with Shou-san. It’s my last full meal at Ono Farm before catching a ride with my WWOOFing host out to Tokushima City. With the organic breads that Masako-san’s friends brought yesterday, the sumomo (sour peach) jam we made recently, a mix of harvested greens, and natto, we have a breakfast feast. I dig in with gusto: when will…