Day 41, Temples 84-86, 31km – Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage

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  • Friday 15 November, 2013
  • Weather: Rain in the morning, sunny afternoon, 16⁰C 
  • Temples: 84-86 (Yashimaji, Yakuriji, Shidoji), 31km
  • Accommodation: Azumaya Ryokan 0879-52-2415, next to Temple 87, ¥3,500

I needed to go back to Temple 83 to get the stamp I’d forgotten and this was going to be a 12km round trip! Considering I’d already walked it, I decided to take a train to the closest station. I got the 6:35am train (in heavy rain) and arrived at the temple just as it opened at 7am.

Takamatsu city has one of the 3 best parks in Japan called Ritsurin Koen and I had wanted to visit the day I arrived but it was too late so I decided to go this morning after the temple because the train just so happened to go right past the park. The entrance was free because it was before 8:30am 🙂  It was still raining quite hard, but I enjoyed walking around the beautiful park (think big Japanese garden) with its ponds, carp, autumn colours, tea houses, and moss covered trees.

My original plan today was to get to Temple 88 but in hindsight I would never have made it so everything worked out for the best and as a bonus I got to visit the park.

Temple 84 and 85 were both on top of separate hills so I prepared myself mentally for a hard slog then knew it was going to be a fairly easy walk the rest of the day to 87.

I won’t forget Temple 84 for the following three reasons:

  1. The elderly lady who gave me ¥200 wrapped up in a tissue.

  2. The tanuki (or raccoon dog) God

  3. The path down that almost killed me!

There was no mention on my map of the path down the mountain being a Henro Korogashi (fall down) path but it was the most dangerous path I had encountered yet, and because of the morning’s heavy rainfall, if it wasn’t slippery stones, it was slippery mud. I knew I was going to fall at some point so I changed my posture hoping that if I did fall, I would fall back rather than forward and hopefully it would hurt less! And then I fell back! Shocked but all intact, I figured if the big man himself, Kobo Daishi, decided I was undeserving of finishing the pilgrimage then this was a good place to show me. (Actually Temple 88 is also on top of a very steep mountain so there was still time to stop me from getting to the end!)

On my way up the mountain to Temple 85 I heard a lady call out “Ohenro San.” I turned around and she had come running out of her house and asked me to stop and have some tea with her. I stopped and had some tea, a delicious jelly (made from apple tea, gelatine, sugar and lemongrass) and a Japanese sweet. Whenever she heard the bells of a Henro walking past she always invited them in for tea 🙂

It was much easier coming down the mountain from 85 and a nice flat walk to 86. I arrived at my ryokan opposite 87 around 6pm after stopping at the Marunaka supermarket and picking up dinner, breakfast and lunch for the next day. The owner of the ryokan was very kind and gave me advice for the hike to 88 as well as chocolate, lollies and a vitamin drink which I’m sure will be appreciated when I’m sweating climbing the last mountain tomorrow!

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