Day 14, Temples 28-29, 43km

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  • Saturday October 19, 2013
  • Weather: Rainy, 20⁰C 
  • Temples: 28 & 29, (Dainichiji, Kokubunji), 43km
  • Accommodation: Henro Hut, ‘Kamohara,’ free

I slept soundly on the futon in the ryokan and regretted telling Patrick that I’d meet him at 5am… I could have slept for another couple of hours! It was raining when I left and it rained pretty much constantly throughout the day.

We walked in the dark for about an hour but the path followed a cycle route for about 15km so we didn’t need to look out for any Henro stickers pointing the way – some of the arrow stickers are only about an inch long and are quite difficult to see in daylight, let alone when it’s still dark.

We walked our own pace and passed each other every hour or so. I met and walked with 3 Japanese Henro, a single lady in her 60s who was doing the walk for the second time and was 2 days faster than me! And a couple from Tokyo who were visiting the temples prefecture by prefecture, last year was Tokushima, this year Kochi.

After Temple 28, the path wound through rice and vegetable fields and was a change of scenery from the ocean view of the last 5 days or so. I was enjoying the cooler weather too and didn’t mind at all that it was raining because wearing my wet weather gear meant I was carrying less in my pack!

For the first time since starting this walk, I felt like I’d found my rhythm. I didn’t mind getting up at 4:30am and my bag didn’t bother me as much. I could do 10km stretches without having to stop and take off my bag rather than every 3-4km.

I knew I was going to have to do more than 40km to get to the Henro hut that I was planning on staying at for the night and even that didn’t bother me. I was however a little concerned that there would be other Henro’s using the hut and no space for me, which would have pushed my day up to almost 50km trying to sleep at the next temple. I had to take a slightly longer way to the hut via a convenience store to get dinner as I was out of food. I had a Japanese curry and rice meal which they microwaved for me – my diet has been anything I can get from convenience stores as they seem to be the only food shops that are open along the path!

I passed Patrick and he had stopped for the night in what looked like someone’s front veranda under an awning. I decided to keep going to the Henro hut as it had come recommended on the accommodation list I had been given from Temple 1. It was after 5pm, it was starting to get dark and the path started to wind up into the mountains… I didn’t realise that was going to happen and I started thinking about wild boars!

I reached the hut and there was no one else there which meant I could stay the night after a 43km day. It was a strange design, long with 2 angled benches inside and a narrow roof – I say narrow because water was dripping in all around me from the rain! There was a toilet, vending machine and water up the hill in what looked like a makeshift construction site, I would never have known to walk up the hill if I hadn’t seen the Japanese note about it inside the hut. There was even a power socket to charge things inside the hut! The hut was right beside a road with a steady stream of cars and I wondered if I was going to be able to sleep with all the scary thoughts of animals and everything else my imagination was conjuring up as it got darker and darker…

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