Day 4, Temples 13-17, 37.8km

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  • Wednesday 9 October 2013
  • Weather: Rainy, humid and hot, 30⁰C 
  • Temples: 13 – 17, (Dainichiji, Jorakuji, Kokubunji, Kanonji, Idoji) 37.8 km
  • Accommodation: Business hotel (Avanti, 088-654-5550) back in Tokushima, ¥3,500 (Henro special) 

We started the day at 6am with a traditional Japanese breakfast of sardines, rice, miso soup, pickles and salad. The old couple who owned the pension told us that the typhoon had passed Shikoku during the night so today we would just have a little rain at first before clearing up to be a fine day.

The pension was in a valley so the first part of the walk was a very steep climb up into the mountains. It was beautiful to see the valley covered in clouds once we arrived at the top but it was a very sweaty slog… (Did I mention the unbelievable humidity?!)

It was a 5hr walk to the first temple and after the rituals we sat down and had our packed lunch of rice balls from the pension.

Throughout the day we met a few other Westerners also walking the whole route: Jacque and Leon from Vancouver, Patrick from Montreal and Maryvonne and Yo from France. It was great to meet other Western pilgrims. Despite us all starting on the same day we somehow had missed each other until today. Three of the 5 were also carrying tents to camp out.

Today I received three lots of ‘osettai’ – this is a gift to Henro (pilgrims) from Japanese people. The first was a box of cookies from the stamp lady at Temple 16, the second a coin purse at Temple 17 from an elderly lady (to hold the coins for donating at each temple), and the third was an origami umbrella from the staff at the shop at Temple 17. It’s rude not to accept osettai so I took the origami umbrella knowing that it would probably get crushed in my bag… But soon after receiving it we were in a convenience store and I gave it to a little girl and it made her day.

We knew it was going to be a hard and long day; we had decided to push onto Tokushima as there weren’t many accommodation options around the last Temple we would be visiting. This meant more than 35km but we hadn’t planned on the weather being 30 degrees… At every vending machine or tap we passed, we filled up with water in our efforts  to stay hydrated.

After 12 hours we finally made it to our business hotel at 7pm, both ready to collapse!

I’m not sure how we managed to leave the hotel and go to the coin laundry to wash our clothes, then to dinner… It’s a blur! But we had a delicious yakiniku (cook your own BBQ) dinner and planned out tomorrow’s walk. Tomorrow looks long and steep like today and we will aim for a hut with the option to stay in the tent if the hut is full.

Temple 18 here we come!

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