- Friday 8 November, 2013
- Weather: Sunny, 21⁰C
- Temples: 60-64 (Yokomineji, Kouonji, Hojuji, Kichijoji, Maegamiji), 53km
- Accommodation: Hagyu-An Zenkonyado, Niihama, Free
I knew I had a long day ahead to arrive at the free accommodation so I was up at 4:30am and walking in the dark at 5am. It got light around 6:30am and until then it really was quite tricky trying to find the arrows!
The first Temple (60) was on top of a hill, 740m high, and the ascent was 6km of winding road and 2km of a ‘Henro Korogashi’ path, meaning Henro fall down! There were a lot of signs warning of falling rocks, loose rocks and slippery surfaces and it certainly lived up to its name… It took forever to reach the top. Then it took even longer on the 10km mountain path down – I had a choice of walking on moss covered rocks or slippery tree roots and we all know now that the tread on my shoes has worn out which makes for a quick slide down a hill!
I guess I’d been lucky not seeing any snakes over the last couple of days but my luck changed today and I almost stepped on 3 on my way down. Each time I screamed, jumped and almost twisted my ankle trying to avoid standing on them. It was the same variety of black and green snake each time and I gave them as much as a fright as they gave me but they were still very slow to move away and they made coming down the mountain take even longer than going up.
I was so happy to finally reach the bottom and walk on a road again and didn’t care then if I saw a snake because its camouflage didn’t really work on Tarmac!
I must admit I rushed the next 3 temples because I hadn’t anticipated the climb up and down from Temple 60 to take so long, meaning at 1pm I still had another 25km to walk.
I received a soft serve ice cream as osettai when walking past a restaurant today, then a bottle of green tea when I bought a snack at a convenience store, then an obento dinner as well!
After leaving the last temple at around 4pm and still having 12km to walk, I rang the Zenkonyado where I was planning to stay the night and told the lady who answered the phone that I was definitely coming and I should arrive by 6:30pm. I walked in the dark with my headlamp for the last hour and arrived right on 6:30pm. The place I’m staying at makes tatami mats and the room is like a garage with a couple of tatami mats on benches. It’s completely free, set up by the old lady who once visited all the temples herself when she was younger. The lady noticed I hadn’t brought any dinner with me and gave me directions to an obento shop nearby called Hokka Hokka and told me to go there as they would give me an obento for free as osettai. How could I refuse a free dinner?!
I ate dinner back in the garage, planned out the next couple of days, called the Tokunaga family to say hi and thank them again for letting me stay, then snuggled into my sleeping bag after my longest walking day yet.