We’re here! Temples 1 – 3

Estimated distance walked this day: 5 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 5 kms

It’s been a very long day, or maybe three days smooshed into one. We sort of slept on the plane, and sort of slept on benches in Haneda, and finally got up at 4:00 am local time. But it was an easy flight to Shikoku, no problem transferring to the airport bus to the little local train, and then finding our way to temple #1.

The weather was ideal — sunny and breezy — probably in the mid-50s.

At Temple 1. Ryozenji, we bought all our pilgrim gear. I didn’t get a sedge hat or sutra bag; Ann didn’t get a staff — she’s using walking poles. We asked two nice ladies to take our photo. They were very curious about our religion. After some explanation, I ended up with, “minnasan wa hitsotsu desu” (we are all one), which got vigorous agreement.

It was now noon, and we might have eaten at the cafe next to Temple 1, except a tour bus just emptied into it ahead of us. So we walked to Temple 2, Gokurakuji. This temple was at the foot of a bamboo-forested hillside. At the temple office, another pilgrim tucked into a bento box, and I was immediately jealous. Why didn’t we buy bento boxes in Downtown Tokushima when we had the chance? As we walked now to Temple 3, Konsenji, I was completely on the look-out for food. While stopping at a vending machine for an iced tea (better than nothing), a baker’s truck stopped dead in the street. A man got out and opened the back. He pulled out trays of freshly baked buns, and started to foist them on us: something like a Japanese knish, a bun filled with curried lentils, luscious chocolate and almond buns. Mr. Masahiron Sato was like an angel, providing us with our first, heaven-sent experience of settai. All this food was ambroisial, washed down with our vending machine tea.

Thus fortified, we moved on to Temple 3. After getting our books stamped, it was only 2:30, but we were very tired after our long journey and spotty sleep. We walked to our minshuku, and despite a 4:00 pm check-in time, we threw ourselves on the proprietor’s mercy. He let us in an hour early, even fired up the bath early for us. After a long soak, we ate the extensive, multi-course dinner he prepared for us and the two other guests. We fell asleep at 8:00 pm like someone had knocked us over the heads with a cudgel.

(Photos to be uploaded later.)