Day 40, Temples 80-83, 36km – Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage

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I was staying about a 10 minute walk from Temple 80 so I woke up early, had another cup noodle for breakfast and arrived there at 7am when it opened. It was a freezing cold morning and you could see the frost on all the rice paddies and my hands were cold even with my gloves on. I met an old man at Temple 80 who had walked the route himself 33 years ago and asked me if anything mysterious had happened to me on the walk… He asked about my dreams and I said I’d definitely had some strange ones which I could always remember the next day, but I put this down to usually staying in some scary places by myself!  I told him the main thing that stood out was the kindness of the people I’d met and the number of snakes I’d seen. Japanese people believe it’s good luck to see a snake and he reiterated this but if that’s the case surely I can see one from a distance and not need to almost stand on one every time?!

I bought a wooden pole at this temple to replace my poor broken one, there’s only a couple of days left but there’s quite a few steep hills that I’ll need two poles for – it’s amazing how much you come to rely on something.

After Temple 80, the route took me straight up into the mountains on a Henro Korogashi (fall down) path but it was the kindest of these paths that I’d experienced – it was hard and steep but not ankle twisting or slippery like they usually are. There was a mamushi snake warning at the bottom of the path but it was a very cold morning so I hoped they were all hidden in their rock homes. Both Temple 81 & 82 were in the mountains and I had about 3km of backtracking along the same path from one to the other. It was nice being in the mountains but again the path was all upturned by wild boars so I was relying on my 2 bells to scare them off!

The ‘kouyou’ (autumn maple colours) was beautiful at both temples, as was the view looking across the sea and to the city of Takamatsu. When I arrived at Temple 81 there was a wild boar warning for the forest I’d just walked through but I still hadn’t seen any… Yet!

From Temple 82-83 it was a 12km walk down the mountain and then along a cycling track by a river. The lady at Temple 83 gave me a sweet potato as osettai and told me I needed to eat it straight away rather than taking it away with me so I sat on a chair to eat it… And completely forgot to get my book stamped! I left and had been walking for about 5km before I realized I hadn’t got it stamped, the time was 4:45pm and because temples close at 5pm it was impossible to get back in time. So tomorrow’s plan has changed because I’ll have to go back to temple 83 when they open at 7am, oops!

I arrived at the hotel and was amazed I could get wifi in my room, it’s only the 3rd place in 40 days to have it – for such a technically advanced country, there’s barely any wifi in Shikoku! (I usually only get it outside convenience stores). I had a delicious Japanese curry for dinner and realized I would no longer make it to temple 88 (the last one) tomorrow because I had to go back to temple 83… It’s not that I’m in any hurry but my shoes aren’t going to last much longer!

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