Henro Afterword

If you’ve gotten this far, I thank you for reading my posts, whether one or all. Since I limited myself to 2000 words for most posts, there are many thoughts left unsaid, significances left unelaborated. I will address some of them below.  I am writing this in the land of pilgrimages. Every year in India, some 100 million people make a pilgrimage, whether Hindu, Jain, Muslim, or even Christian. Every year, for 40 days, an estimated 50 million men (women menstruating between the ages of 12-50 are unclean and cannot participate) take off their shoes to trek through the Periyar Tiger Reserve…

Henro Day 39: July 29

Kamojima Town Kamo-no-Yu Onsen Henro Hut (鴨島町鴨の湯遍路小屋) → Tokushima Otsuru Ryokan (徳島市大鶴旅館) Temples: 12 Shōsan-ji (焼山寺), 13 Dainichi-ji (大日寺), 14 Jōraku-ji (常楽寺), 15 Awa Kokubun-ji (阿波国分寺), 16 Kannon-ji (観音寺), 17 Ido-ji (井戸寺) Weather: Sunny & Cloudy Travel Method: Walking (+ Car + Train return to Tokushima) Distance: 25.7km (+ 25.9km) 1305. 225. 15.7. 14:19. 25.7. Sigh. Breathe. Smile. Sit. Close eyes. Those are the last numbers of my pilgrimage. It is a 1305 metre elevation gain, 225 minutes of moving time, over 15.7km, at a pace of 14:19mins/km from my henro hut to Shōsan-ji. My total walk on my last day is 25.7km when I add Temples 13 to 17, my…

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 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 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…

Henro Day 19: July 9

Shimonokae 下ノ加江 → Hirata Station 平田 Temples: 38 (Kongōfuku-ji 金剛福寺) Weather: Cloudy + Sunny Travel Method:  Walking + Bus + Train Distance: 24.7 km (+51.7km) I set my alarm for 5 and it’s barely twilight by the time I get out from the covers. Instantly, I regret laying out my dry clothes last night to dry more; the humidity has tampered with them. Never mind. I pack and eat breakfast, finishing the rest of the mugicha, cold barley tea, from last night. I still have time so I slip outside to take photos of dawn before leaving. The couple are waiting for me by…

Henro Day 18: July 8

Michi-no-Eki Bios Oogata 道の駅ビオス おおがた → Shimonokae 下ノ加江 Temples: None Weather: Cloudy + Rain Travel Method:  Walking Distance: 28 km Last night was meh. That one word synthesises a relatively comfortable spot (under a table), feeling comfortable (mostly not too hot or cold), a full belly (from snacks), general feeling of safety (could see incoming traffic), and a decent 8 hours of sleep (broken). After forcing myself to sleep despite the sheen of sweat on my forehead, I drifted awake when the cool air sank in. The two hours before dawn are chilliest. The blackness and cold have reached their maturity. It’s often only when…

Henro Day 17: July 7

Kaina Station → Michi-no-Eki Bios Oogata 道の駅ビオス おおがた  Temples: None Weather: Cloudy Travel Method:  Walking Distance: 24.2 km The day starts early, too unjustly early for a departure. This is a good life, a good home, a good river outside, with good hills. We have breakfast and I pack the last items into my backpack as my host starts the car. Where did the morning go? My host and I have our last good chat on the way to Kubokawa station, where she’ll drop me off on the way to work. The conversation ebbs and flows after we’ve covered so much the past two…

Henro Day 16: July 6

Somewhere in Takaoka-gun (高岡郡) Temples: None Weather: Cloudy + Rain Travel Method:  None! Distance: 0 ‘Stay’ is a charming word in a friend’s vocabulary. – Louisa May Alcott  ‘Stay’ has enticed many a traveller to lay down roots, caused many a vagabond to lay down their wanders. Nomads have heard it from mystics and monks in deep jungles and remote mountains. Whether spoken by a life-long friend or a newfound connection, the word has equal power when the stars align. I’ve already encountered it three times in Shikoku. Is it temptation or an invitation? I hear the faint thud of footsteps, take a brief glance at the…