Day 12, Temples 24-26, 32km

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So the ‘closed’ school I stayed at last night wasn’t so closed! Cars began to arrive just as I was getting into my sleeping bag and some kind of sports training started in the gym, about 20 metres from where I was lying. I fell asleep to the kids shouting, “ichi, ni, san, shi, go” (one, two, three, four, five).

I tossed and turned all night thinking about wild boars, venomous centipedes, spiders and everything else that could attack me while I slept. I wanted to be tucked up safe in my mummy sleeping bag but it was so hot inside it I dared to have my arms out.

I was up at 5am, charged my phone at the power socket I found outside the building (handy!) and left on my way to Temple 24, the first temple in Kochi prefecture and the first temple I would have visited in 4 days.

It was a cool morning and the sunrise over the sea was stunning. As soon as the sun is out the temperature skyrockets so it was nice to have an hour or so with the cool breeze.

I continued walking along the coast to the cape with beautiful sea views, then turned inland and up a mountain to Temple 24. It was nice to be back at a temple and to do the rituals.

25 and 26 were all within a few kilometers of each other and I now had to think about where to sleep the night because 27 was another 20km away but I wasn’t going to make it there today… Ideally a ‘Michi no Eki’ would have been perfect (roadside services stop) because they usually have a hut, toilets and free wifi! … There wasn’t one for another 30km… In fact there really wasn’t anything; no huts, no paid accommodation… I was going to be outside again so I chose a shrine on the map and started to walk there.

I bumped into Patrick and we both had the shrine in mind so we walked together but when we found it, we were surprised at how small and in the open it was. Usually, like temples, they’re in the mountains or surrounded by trees, but this one was surrounded by houses on all sides and was just one tiny building. It was already getting dark and our map didn’t offer any alternatives for many kilometers, so our choice was either to sleep against the sea wall on the other side of the road, or outside the shrine under a very small awning. We decided on the awning in case it rained overnight. There was a toilet nearby and a convenience store, so we bought some dinner and ate it on the concrete before falling asleep outside again.

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