Day 33, Temples 56-59, 29km – Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage

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I was woken by loud thunder and heavy rain, just as the weather forecast had predicted. The three of us had a lovely breakfast together again and after breakfast the rain had stopped and it was turning into a lovely day so it was time I started walking again.

But first there were a few more sights to see in Imabari – the famous towel museum (towels of all shapes, sizes and brands!), and Imabari castle. We arrived back at their house around midday, had another lovely lunch of homemade rice balls and tea, then we said a sad goodbye and off I went…

How incredibly lucky I was to meet such a beautiful, friendly and kind couple who invited me into their home to stay and treated me like their daughter… I’ll never forget their kindness and generosity and I hope we’ll meet again soon.

There were 4 temples to visit close to their home and then I was hoping to make it to a free hut inside a temple about 25km away to stay the night.

Soon after leaving I was given a box of crisps as osettai by a lady who stopped her car on the side the road, then mandarins from a gardener at Temple 58, and then a bottle of green tea at the convenience store where I bought my dinner! This concept of osettai amazes me every day!

I arrived at the last temple of the day at around 4:30pm and quickly realised I was going to be walking in the dark for a couple of hours before arriving where I wanted to stay and also that chances were it wasn’t going to be open because I was arriving after 5pm. So I started to think about plan B while I was walking and as it got darker and darker I made the executive decision to stay on the highway with a footpath rather than take the Henro path down a dark busy road with no footpath. It meant I had to walk further but I liked the idea of a footpath!

I looked at my guidebook and noticed the next town had a few hotels and Japanese inns, so I started calling and finally found a room available at the 6th place I called! I told them I was walking and would arrive late but to please keep the room for me. Next issue was dinner as the guidebook didn’t mention any food shops along the route I had chosen… I was very excited to come across an (expensive) sushi restaurant and I went in and asked if it was possible to just have 2 rice balls to take away. I explained I still had quite a distance to walk so couldn’t stop there to eat. The wife was very understanding and made me a lovely pack of rice balls and only charged ¥300. Within half an hour I passed a convenience store and decided that the rice balls I was carrying would make a perfect breakfast but I wanted a hot meal for dinner so I had a beef and rice dish at the convenience store!

I eventually arrived at the ryokan at 7:30pm, the latest I’ve ever arrived, and vowed to myself not for the first time to arrive at each day’s destination by 5pm!

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