Day 1, Temples 1-5, 20.8km

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I woke at 4am after only 3.5hrs sleep and finally went back to sleep just before my alarm went off at 6:30am… Don’t you just hate jetlag?

Dave and I met at 7am and had a traditional Japanese breakfast of rice, miso soup, pickles and salad. I poured the ‘apple juice’ for us both but it was green tea – of course it was, I’ve obviously been away from Japan far too long!

We then had a 20 min train journey and 10 min walk to Temple #1, Ryozenji. We went straight to the temple shop and bought our gear for the journey:

  • Sedge hat

  • White vest

  • Stole

  • Bag

  • Name slips

  • Stamp book

  • Bell

The bill came to ¥10,685, approx US$110.

The staff told us what we needed to do at each temple (bow when entering the temple, purify ourselves at the wash basin, ring the bell to mark our arrival, go to the main hall and light a candle and incense, ring the bell here, place the name slip in the box, give a donation, put your hands together and recite the sutras, then go to the Daishi hall and repeat the process of name slip, donation and reciting sutras, then go to the stamp office to receive your stamp (¥300 each one), then when exiting the main gate turn toward the temple again and bow once). Simple!

After the staff saw our backpacks and tent we were also given a list of free or cheap accommodation to stay at throughout the walk. We were hoping to make it to temple 6 today and stay in the free lodging inside the temple gate.

We walked around Temple 1 and practiced what we’d been shown then walked onward to Temple 2 and went through all the motions again.

It was hot (27 degrees) and incredibly humid (90%) as we walked between each temple. The vending machines selling cold drinks became our best friends. Dave was very impressed with the beer vending machines and decided that buying a beer would be the best way to get change for the next temple stamp! 😉

We had been looking for somewhere for lunch for a couple of hours but everything we came across was closed until we detoured off the path and finally at 4pm we found a 7-11. It’s not somewhere you would think of eating usually, but here in Japan it’s very normal and they sell everything from sushi, rice balls, curry and noodles to sandwiches and chocolate bars.

We both bought a sandwich and some snacks for the evening in case we didn’t come across anywhere else.

We pushed onto Temple 6, asked the owner if we could stay in the free lodging and although they said yes, when we climbed the stairs to the second floor of the temple gate, the room was already full with Japanese pilgrims… We went back to the owner and asked about camping (there were no huts or any other accommodation within the next 10km and it was already dark), she told us about a parking lot nearby but said that we weren’t ‘officially’ allowed to camp there. We made our way there, were grateful to see a public toilet in the carpark and set up camp in the best hiding spot we could find, aptly beside a statue of Kobo Daishi. We were hoping that we wouldn’t get moved on as we were both very tired with jetlag and had nowhere else to go! A shower would have been nice after the sticky and humid day, but the sink in the bathroom was just as welcome for a wet pat down! It’s all part of the adventure 🙂

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