Day 38, Temples 71-75, 23km – Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage

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I didn’t leave the business hotel until 9am!! I wasn’t in a hurry today; it was a short walk and I would be able to take my time at each temple and still arrive at my accommodation early.

It was however, a cold morning, so I walked fast to get warm and enjoyed the cool air. The first temple of the day was Temple 71, set on top of a hill, up 530 steps 🙂 I left my bag at the bottom of the steps at a small teahouse and climbed the stairs to the top. There was a terrific view looking back over the town and surrounding mountains. When I got back to the teahouse I sat with the owners and had tea and some mochi (one of my favourite Japanese sweets – pounded rice with red bean paste inside). They gave me some sunflower seeds to hold in my hand and a small colourful bird came in from outside, perched on my hand and ate the seeds 🙂

It was a lovely mix of road walking and mountain paths and I hoped it would be too cold today for the snakes to be out… Thankfully I didn’t see any!

I met a Japanese man called Katsumi at Temple 74 and he was sketching the temple in a notebook. He spoke terrific English so we had a long chat and it turned out he was also staying at the same temple I was.

I arrived at Zentsuji (Temple 75) around 3:30pm and was excited to be staying in a temple with all the frills of aircon and electricity and meals included, unlike every other time when I had stayed in the ‘Tsuyado’ part for free. (This temple was also very famous as it’s the birthplace of Kobo Daishi – the monk whose footsteps I’m following in by doing this pilgrimage).

I was met at the entrance by a lady who showed me where to put my walking poles – there was a sign with my name on it for my poles! Then where to put my shoes (also a sign with my name on it for my shoe box) then showed me my room (also with a sign with my name on it!) I waited for the bath to open at 4pm and went and had a long soak. I then did my laundry – it was free for the washing machine, dryer and soap so I washed practically everything! Then I went to the dinner room at 5:30pm and sat at the chair that had a sign with my name on it!! Katsumi (the sketch artist I had met at the previous temple) was sat beside me and we had a terrific evening talking about the walk.

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