Temple 39

Estimated distance walked this day:  6 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 229 kms

After getting up, we walked around some more along the coast, and then caught the first bus out. This bus was driven by a young woman — a generation ago, there would have been no female bus drivers. And as it was, I was thinking that she probably got the least popular run of driving Sunday morning. In her crisp uniform (no people love uniforms more than the Japanese) she was no less a professional driver. She did light taps of the horn as she went around those blind curves on our one-lane, two-way road, which was just fine with me. That road is incredibly scenic, but dang, it’s amazing that apparently people drive it every day (including all those pilgrim tour buses) and yet no one seems to get killed.

I made a stop to the Japanese equivalent of Frys, to get something for my camera, in the suburban sprawl outside of Nakamura, while Ann continued riding the bus into town. She waited for me to do my shopping and walk in. I made a stop at a used clothing store, and bought a beautiful purple and white traditional kimono jacket there for about $10. After I met up with Ann, we walked out to the farmers’ market near the tourist information center. We had a climb later in the day, and we wanted supplies for a picnic lunch. The tourist information center told us that the inn that we wanted near the temple was full, so I had them call the other one, which had a vacancy.

We then got on the wanman train, and rode out to Enkōji. We easily found the inn, but is not surprising mid-day at a Japanese inn, it was locked up tight. So we just dropped our heavy backpacks discretely behind something, so we could just walk with our sutra bags. The climb up was not as bad as Ann feared — I think the whole climb to Temple 12 was rather scarring — and we made it to the top rather handily. Like many temples up on a large hill, once we got there, there were still more steps, and more steps up. There’s a legend about a sea turtle living at the temple, which is clearly legend, because no sea turtle could have managed all those stairs. After spending time at the temple, we headed back down. It was now after 4:00 PM, the usual time that inns start receiving guests. We walked around, and finally found the guest entrance, and the doors were open.

Usually at this point, we enter an inn, and are greeted by our hosts, who typically show us to our rooms, perhaps give us a pot of green tea and a restorative snack (typically oranges or crackers), and are offered a hot bath. Instead, other than the open door, there was no sign of anyone. We looked around, and saw how dirty and old the interior was, with cobwebs dating back to the previous emperor. I walked around looking for the owner, and saw a communal bath that could have really used a dose of Clorox and some elbow grease. I called out, “Sumimasen! Sumimasen!” but got no reply. So, I gave a call to the owner. We sat in the lobby, and I could hear the phone trilling in another part of the building. It rang and rang, and finally, after about twelve rings, it was answered. The innkeeper sounded like she was 103 years old. She told me that she was not ready to receive us yet. Since there were no other guests apparent, and she had all day to prepare for us, this seemed to be a bad sign. Even previous inns that might have been a little old and worn, had staff ready to greet us and offer hospitality. Ann and I gave each other looks, and I said that there was a hotel in Sukumo, about 10 miles down the road. I called the hotel, and sure enough, there was a vacancy. I snapped off my phone, and we set out to the train station. Because we were out in the sticks, the next wanman train wasn’t due for another hour and a half. So we walked back out to the main road, and waited for a local bus instead, which was coming in less than an hour. Not much better, but a little.

The bus finally arrived, and we piled on. As we drew into town, I told the driver which hotel we were looking for, and he dropped us off closer than if we had taken the train. The hotel was pretty stark and utilitarian, but it was clean, and even better, it had wifi. Woo-hoo! Not only wifi in the Nakamura train station, at our hotel, too! We asked the front desk staff for suggestions for a restaurant, and they recommended one down the road a ways. We started walking there, but before we even walked a block, we stumbled on a Pakistani restaurant. How some Pakistanis should find themselves in Sukumo (not exactly the most cosmopolitan corner of Shikoku) to open a restaurant, with halal meat no less, I can not fathom. I like Japanese food, but we had been eating Japanese food three times a day for more than a couple of weeks, and it was really fun to have something else. We had chicken in a spinach sauce and lamb in a tomato-based curry sauce, over rice, with nan and a couple of mugs of draft beer. I told the waiter (in English!) that we wanted it spicy, not Japanese spicy, but really spicy, and it came to us sort of medium-mild, but this was still spicier than I might have expected.

So — it was a long day, with a lot of travel, plus a reasonable hike up to a temple and back, plus the unexpected bonus of wifi and curries at the end. No complaints, no complaints at all.

Temples 37 and 38

Estimated distance walked this day:  5 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 223 kms

This was a big travel day. We did not do that much walking, but used train and bus to cover over 120 kms of distance.

We caught an early train out of Susaki, and headed south. We got off the train at Kubokawa, and walked to Iwamotoji. One of the things I remember best of this temple is that they have community members contribute to how the temple looks. For example, as you climb the stairs to get to the temple gates, they have little wooden plaques painted by local children. And the ceiling in the main hall has little squares painted clearly by many different people. Some of the paintings are religious in nature (mandalas, saints), but others are of plants and animals, famous people — I guess whatever people wanted to see. The main hall also had seating for the public, and I had the opportunity to sit there in meditation, too.

After we were done there, we walked back to the train station and continued south, until we went as far south as you could on the train — to Nakamura. We then walked to the Nakamura tourist information office, where they booked us a hotel for our final destination of the day, and also provided us with lots of useful help. In the same complex as the tourist information office was a farmers’ market and a little restaurant, so we also ate lunch there. We then caught the bus to take us to Cape Ashizuri.

The bus ride was more or less normal to Tosa-Shimizu. The younger driver got off, and an older guy took over the driving. From Tosa-Shimizu, the road narrowed to a one-lane, two-way winding road, with more or less a sheer cliff going up on one side, and a scary plunge into the ocean on the other. Since so many of the roads in Japan are one or one-and-a-half lanes and take two-way traffic, it’s interesting to me to see how these are negotiated. In this case, it appeared that the bus pretty much had the right-of-way, forcing other vehicles to back out until they reached a place where the road was wide enough for the bus to pass. When there was a semi-truck coming the other way, there were a few seconds of seeming negotiation, and the bus backed down until the semi could continue on.

By the time we reached the Cape, while I had enjoyed the views out of the bus window, I was a little car-sick, and happy to disembark. We dumped our stuff at the Hatto Hotel, and trotted off to find Kongofukuji, Temple 38.

Since the tour bus pilgrims also spent the day in travel down to the Cape, they were also trying to reach the temple before the day’s end, too. Bus after bus were unloading in the parking lot across from the temple. When we entered the temple grounds, they were jammed with pilgrims. Different groups were chanting and praying at the different halls. As Ann and I walked behind one, and looked at the many statues of Buddhist saints and boddhisatvas, you could hear the voices and the drumming, while the slanting afternoon sun filtered through the trees, creating an other-worldly atmosphere.

After visiting the temple, we walked out to the viewpoint, where one tour guide was pointing to where things were in different directions, including “Guam” and “Hawaii”. It really did feel like we were standing on the edge of the vast Pacific Ocean. We walked out to the lighthouse. Then we escaped the crowds by walking down to the shore: first to a rock adjoining the land that was marked off with a Shinto torii gate as being holy, and then down to the sand. There was a hole in the rock, and the sea rushed through it to the beach, and out again, over and over.

We came back up to Hotel Hotto, where we had an extensive sashimi dinner. The food there was magnificent, and as you can imagine, the fish was amazingly fresh. The owner made a fancy table setting with the fish head and tail stuck into an enormous froth of grated daikon, such that it looked like the fish was jumping out of the sea foam. Considering that we had sea view rooms, a private bath, and this dinner (plus the standard Japanese breakfast), the price of ~$70 per person was pretty cheap, I thought. We watched the sun set over the water. We didn’t walk a lot of miles that day, but it was a satisfying one nonetheless.

Temple 36

Estimated distance walked this day:  16 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 218 kms

This was one of my favorite days on the henro trail.

We got up in the morning, left our lovely wi-fi’d Kochi hotel for the final time, and caught a bus to Usa. After the previous day’s hell of looking for and still not gettting quite the right bus, I made a firm effort to know which bus, what color it was (orange), which platform — the whole thing.

We boarded the bus, which took over an hour to get out of town, our last spoke out of central Kochi. The bus ran along the coast, showing us little fishing villages outside the window, then ducking into a tunnel, then showing us more fishing villages. We finally got out at Usa. Usa sits at the mouth of this long inlet, called Uranouchi Bay, but it is less a bay, and more a fjord — a long, skinny arm of the sea, reaching into the mountains. Right at Usa there’s a big bridge going over the inlet, which we used to cross over to the other side. We walked along the shore, and then made it to Shoryuji. Its name is the same as the Zen temple where I used live in Kobe. The temple is set in the hill just overlooking the water. There were lots of steps — what temple set against a hill doesn’t have a lot of steps? — and we climbed up to see the temple complex’s various buildings.

The woman working at the temple stamp office didn’t know of the Shoryuji in Kobe, but she was still happy to sell me a little sticker that has the temple name written on it, as well as stamp my book.

At the bottom of the steps, after we were done, we met our first (and really, our only, so far) other foreigner henro. He was an Englishman, and he was doing the pilgrimage on the rough, sleeping in train stations, under overpasses, and at rest huts. I realize that there are plenty who do the pilgrimage this way, but it would really make the whole thing so much less feasible for me. I am so grateful that I have the money to pay for inns and hotels, that have heat, fluffy futons and beds, and hot baths!

After our conversation with this fellow, we returned back up and over the bridge to Usa. I had read that you could take a ferry through to the end of the fjord, rather than have to walk along the mountain ridges, which sounded great to both of us.

Finding the dock for this ferry proved to be quite a challenge. We walked back and forth, and asked a number of locals. It was during one of the backing and forthing that I peered into a corrigated metal building. A young man was seated there with huge cases of shellfish. He was sorting through clams. I managed to get his attention — I hated to disturb him while he was working so diligently — and asked him if he knew where this ferry was. Well, he said, it’s right around here. Really? He led me out of the building where he was working, and pointed to a spray-painted red arrow. If you followed this spray-painted red arrow around the corrigated metal  building, there was a little wooden shed with a bench and a vending machine (no public toilet, though). This was it. At this point, we had spent so much time wandering around looking for this dock — far from the mighty terminals of the Washington State or BC Ferry System — that we really didn’t have time to walk back into Usa and eat lunch. I offered to race back into town, as fast as I could, while Ann watched the packs, to find food.

I got maybe just to just where the town might be said to start, and there was a tiny store. In it were three elderly Japanese ladies. I bought from them some fruit and some packages of chips. I held up the package of surimi extruded into tubes and stuffed with yam paste, and asked them if these things tasted good. Oh, they assured me, they were delicious, so I bought that too. Then I trotted back to the dock.

We sat there at the dock, leaning up against the concrete wall, and eating lunch. Then we just sat there, and watched the water ripple, the sea birds fly by, and the trees on the opposite shore gently wave in the breeze. We sat there, and then a motorboat pulled up. The captain helped us leap from the concrete dock on to the boat. We gave him six hundred yen — about six dollars — and he took off.

He motored up and down the bay, peering at the other docks to see if he had any one else waiting, but he had no other passengers. The bay had many platforms moored, with fishing boats tied up to them. I think these may be used for fish or shellfish processing, because the mountains rise up so steeply from the water. Only on these platforms would there be enough horizontal space to organize a catch.

Finally, we got to our destination of Yokonami, at the end of the bay, after about an hour of being on the boat. We got off where a bunch of teenage boys were hanging out on the dock. They got the thrill of practicing their schoolbook English on real live foreigners.

From Yokonami, we started then to hike out, into the mountains. We climbed up along a river, and then left the river to go even higher. I got a little nervous that perhaps we were not on the henro trail, and perhaps were lost, but after a while we picked up the tell-tale henro trail markers, and I was reassured that we were going the right way.

We dropped down, down, down off the mountain side, and back into the familiar landscape of rice paddies, plastic greenhouses, and vegetable fields. We crossed the Sakura River, and we could see the town of Susaki. We walked straight to the Prince Susaki Hotel, where we had our reservations, and checked in.

After shedding our things, we walked around the corner from the hotel to a ramen shop, where they served the local speciality of Nabeyaki Ramen. The noodles floated in chicken broth, with vegetables, fish cakes, and an egg on top. The hot soup, combined with a couple of draft beers, ended this scenic and spectacular day.

 

Temples 34 and 35

Estimated distance walked this day:  18 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 202 kms

After the baking heat of the day before, well, it started to rain. And I don’t mean some gentle sprinkling. It pounded rain all night.

We woke up, and it was not slacking one iota. Damn. We walked out to the bus station, and there was about a half dozen possible places to catch a bus, everyone was cramming on buses because of the rain, and the pages of my guide book were sticking together and wrinkling. My ability to ask people for help in these trying circumstances were limited. For some reason, I couldn’t retain either the name of where the bus was supposed to be bound for — Takaoka Eigyosho-mae — nor the name of our actual destination — Sakai-machi. I had to keep on opening up the stupid guide book, try to find the page, try to find the tiny writing on the page, and ask the bus driver, while people were desperately trying to get on and off the bus, the pages were sticking together, and it was coming down in buckets.

Finally, we got to the right place to catch the bus, but I don’t remember what exactly went wrong — it might have just been that we were too late, and were now in the infamous DEAD ZONE of no public transportation after rush hour. So, rather than catching the bus that went within 30 minutes walk of the temple, it was more like a bus that went within 45 minutes walk of the temple. Still, close enough.

We were one of the few people on the bus, and the young driver was very concerned that we would find our way, considering that we were not exactly on the right bus. We finally got off at more or less the right place, and set out in the driving rain. We soon passed by Haruno hot springs, and the desire to simply bob around in hot water all morning, rather than walk to some temple in a downpour, was pretty strong.

Still, we soldiered on past the hot springs resort, and found our way to Tanemaji, which was pretty much in the countryside. This is a temple to pray for safe childbirth, and you are to purchase a wooden rice ladle and write your petition to Kannon, the boddhisatva of mercy. If you deliver your baby without difficulty, you are to return the paddle with a hole punched out of it, as proof of the success of divine intervention.

After Tanemaji, we headed out to Kiyotakiji, Temple 35. The rain started to slack a bit as we left, and I had some hope that maybe it was going to clear. My quick-dry pants were starting to quick-dry.  But as we walked along the rice paddies, it soon became clear that this hope was for naught. It soon returned to raining, and raining hard.

My guidebook indicated that there was a restaurant called Raku along the way, and though I kept my eyes peeled for it, it never appeared. We joined the very busy Route 56 highway to cross the Niyodo River.  At this point, I felt it was ridiculous to make any effort to keep my feet dry. Every foot step made a splorching noise, as rainwater seeped out of the eyelets of my boots. I just walked straight through the puddles streaming water off the highway.

The bridge was a good half km just to do the crossing. When we came off the bridge, we stepped briefly into a shrine just to get a little shelter. Two stray cats were sprawled on dirty cushions at the shrine, enjoying their little patch of dry. We couldn’t quite find our way on to the official henro trail, so we resumed walking on Route 56 instead. I was ravenously hungry, and needed lunch, right then. Fortunately, there was a noodle shop not far. We stepped in the steamy roadhouse. It was filled with truck drivers and other working men — we were the only women. It was self-serve – they handed you a bowl with broth and noodles, and you chose the toppings off of a rack, then paid the cashier. This worked really well for us, as it took very little language skills. I got mixed vegetables, dominated by squash, and a piece of chicken in mine. We parked ourselves at one of the counters, rainwater streaming off of us, and slurped down the hot soup and noodles.

It took a heroic effort of will to leave the noodle shop, and return to the slop outside. But we did. We left the busy highway to walk through the little town of Tosa, and then were on the proper henro trail to get up to Kiyotakuji. As we left town, something close to miraculous happened. It stopped raining. A patch of blue appeared. As we climbed up the hill, the blue patch became bigger. The sun came out. I took off my jacket. We wound our way, up, up, and then finally, made it to the temple.

It was now sparkling clear, and we had a magnificient view of the entire valley. After doing our temple rituals, and getting our book stamped, we parked ourselves at some benches outside the temple office. Ann took off her socks and wrung them out. Streams of dirty water issued forth.

We then descended the hill. On the way down we met a woman that we had met at Shosanji, Temple 12. This would happen from time to time – we would get left behind by faster walking pilgrims, but catch up to them later because we were using the bus or train. It was nice to see her again.

It took some navigational skills to make it to Takaoka Eigyosho on the way down, and I had some brief concerns that we had gone astray, but we made it there after all. It had all the hallmarks of Japanese civilization: a bench, a vending machine offering cold and hot beverages, and a public toilet. What more could weary travellers ask for, while waiting for the bus?

We sat there comfortably until our bus rolled up, and we got on board. It was a solid hour or so bus ride back to Kochi, but that was OK. It was no longer raining. We ate some seared tuna sushi with a couple of draft beers at a grill near the hotel. Then, once back, stuffed newspapers into our boots to help finish the drying process, had hot baths, and went to bed.

Temples 32 and 33

Estimated distance walked this day:  18 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 184 kms

It was one of those days where we must have gotten a somewhat of a late start, easier to do in a hotel, than an inn, where they eject you on to the street by 7:30, if not earlier. By the time we caught the wanman train out to Gomen, and then walked to the bus station, we had missed the bus that would take us out to to Temple 32, Zenjibuji. The next bus was — gulp — two hours later.

I went into the bus station, and asked how long it would take to walk. About an hour, the bus station attendant thought. OK, we’ll walk.

It was a warm, sunny day, and we set out south. This whole section was going to mostly be off our map book, so it was a little nerve-racking in terms of navigation. However, I believed that if we just stayed on the numbered route going south, eventually we’d intersect with Route 14, and we’d be able to find it.

We walked and walked. The urban scene petered out into some mix of suburbia, hodgepodge of rice paddies and vegetable fields, and light industrial and warehousing, along a busy road. Walked and walked. Walked and walked. Finally, we reached Route 14, and I had to breathe a sigh of relief, because at least Route 14 was on my map, and we’d be able to find the temple.

The morning had melted away in the now hot mid-day sun, and I was happy to stumble upon an Italian restaurant. We came in, and they immediately served a large glass of ice water, which is a contrast to the usual thimble that they usually serve. We then proceeded to order a pizza set, where we got a couple of cheese pizzas with fresh basil, green salads, and a soft drinks — we both choose ice tea — for some reasonable price. When they brought out the two pizzas, I thought, no way am I going to eat this whole pizza by myself. Yet, somehow, the entire pizza disappeared. Plus, more ice water. No complaints.

We set back out on to the highway refreshed, and walked and walked…we could see up on the hill a cemetery, and often this is a sign that a temple is nearby. Ann speculated that our temple was somewhere up on that hill. But we saw no henro trail signs, so we walked under the hill instead, through a tunnel.

When we came out the other side, I knew that there had to be some way up the hill, but how? While I was in the process of tracking down some poor, unfortunate young lady and asking her for directions, Ann was able to pick up the henro trail marker. I thanked the person that I had stopped for at least trying to help, and took up the proper path.

From there, it was not long before we hit a steep climb, and it was up, up, up that hill that we had just been under.  We finally made it to the top, which had a spectacular view of the port. The temple had a number of cool Jizo statues. This temple was a place to pray for the safety of seafarers and fisherfolk.

Because our walk out there had taken so long, Ann warned me that we could not linger, so we set down the hill again. Then, it was another very long, unattractive walk along 50,000 rows of plastic greenhouses — a good 3.5 kms of this, and little else. The hot sun beat down on our heads. Ann later apparently confessed that she was thinking about trading a lifetime of being in a wheelchair for not having to walk another step.

Finally, after another couple of kms of walking, we found our way to the free Tanizaki pedestrian ferry boat. Based on the schedule, if we had not been able to catch this boat, then we’d be hosed trying to get to Temple 33 before it closed. But, we made it with time to spare. I sat down gratefully at the small terminal, and drank a soda from the neighboring vending machine. It was cooling down and starting to cloud over. A couple more pilgrims gathered as we waited for the boat, along with a few teens on their bicycles. I chatted with the other pilgrims, who were the typical types we see: retired men in their 60s, walking alone. One of them had done the pilgrimage before, and offered to lead us directly from the ferry terminal on the other side to Sekkeiji, Temple 33, about a km and a half from the shore. Since I had done so much navigation earlier in the day, it was a relief to have someone else do the leading.

Once we made the crossing, this senior pilgrim lead us all briskly along the roadside, until we arrived at the temple. It is one of the few Zen temples on the route, but nothing about it stood out to me as being particularly Zen. I remember the temple complex being simple and somewhat worn, which is fine with me. I don’t need my temples nice and shiny.

The day was now done, and we were toast, too. We caught a bus, which took a long time to return to central Kochi. Not only did it take a good hour, through rush hour traffic to return, it didn’t quite take us as far as the area near the station, where we had our hotel. Instead, it dumped us in the shopping area to the south. We were walking in the general direction of our hotel, when I spotted an okonimiyakiya. I love okonimiyaki, which is a speciality of the Kansai area, where I used to live. While I’ve heard it described as Japanese pizza, really, okonimiyaki is like a big savory pancake stuffed with vegetables and meats.

Well, it was our day to eat round things. We both got an okonimiyaki. There was a kerfuffle with the waitress, and finally the cook came out, a stocky young woman who seemed to be able to deal with two gaijin more handily. After some conferring, I got one that was stuffed I think with pork, and deliciously, with cheese, as well as some vegetables. Ann got one stuffed with seafood. I know we both drank a goodly sized draft beer, too, a piece. We then toddled back to the hotel, quite satisfied.

Temples 29, 30, and 31

Estimated distance walked this day:  15 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 169 kms

These temples were the first of a set leading out from Kochi. We took the train from the central station to Gomen, then headed a couple of miles north to Kokubunji. This temple had, in my opinion, very nice temple grounds — an oasis in the city. We sort of picked up another henro, an older Japanese man, who wanted to walk along with us for a while. He was interested in pointing out various native plants, as Ann is interested in horticulture. We ambled along quiet roads and trails paralleling the Kokubu River, until we got to the vicinity of the Kochi University Medical Hospital. At this point we split off to eat lunch; he continued on his way.

After lunch, we continued until we came to a rest hut. I read various entries from Westerners who had spent the night there and marveled at these hardy folks. One praised the hut for having an electrical outlet as well as porta-potty and vending machine. I complain when there’s no WiFi!

After this hut, the scenery changed: we were walking next to a large recycling center, and then were walking along a busy highway. Then we threaded a short bit through a quiet neighborhood, and made it to Temple 30, Zenrakuji. I understand that due to inter-religious conflict, this temple fell into decline, and its main treasures moved to another temple, and there was for a time two temple 30s. Only sixty years ago did the temple get to be reunited, and was rebuilt.

This temple thus had a very new feel to it; its grounds were mostly concrete. I would say that this was not my most favorite temple, but considering its tumultuous past, I can’t criticize it too harshly.

We were a bit tired at this point, but we pushed on. There was then a higglity-pigglity mix of farmers’ fields, an amusement park, a hospital, and a couple of rivers to cross, all along a busy road.

Once we returned to more urban streets, we started up the hill to Chikurinji. Ann had expressed an interest in also visiting the adjacent Makino Botanical Gardens, but was afraid that our long day of walking would mean that the gardens would be closed before we finished with Chikurinji. Or if we did go to the gardens, by the time we finished, the temple would be closed.

Little did we know. An unadvertised bonus of walking to Chikurinji is that you get into the back of the botanical gardens for free. Further, the official walking henro route then takes you smack-dab through the center of the gardens. By the time we made it to the entrance, at the front (our exit) we realized that we would also have the opportunity to stroll its truly wonderful hothouse besides.

We then exited the gardens, mounted the steps for Temple 31, and went directly to the Nokyo office to get our books stamped. Then we viewed the temple. As befitting a temple next to a botanical garden, it too had lovely flowers and trees. (Since I first drafted this blog entry, I have learned that this temple’s gardens have been designated as a natural monument.)

By the time we were done with this, we plotzed at the city bus stop. I remember the bus ride back, but little else. It had been a long day.

Temples 27 and 28

Estimated distance walked this day:  11 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 154 kms

We got up bright and early the next day — another clear sunny day — to climb the mountain to Temple 27.  I’ll just add as an aside that anything other than bright and early at these ryokan is pretty hard to do. They usually serve breakfast no later than 6:30, and if you haven’t hit the road by 7:30, they will be tapping their toes, waiting to hustle you out the door. A six o’clock breakfast is pretty normal.

Ann was a bit nervous about this particular climb. Konomineji is known as a “pilgrim fall down” temple because of its steep climb towards the end. She felt we needed to budget the whole day for it. So, we dropped the packs at the coffee shop at about 7:00 am and started up the trail.

Well, it was steep in places, but dang, at this point, we’d done some pretty steep climbs, and we were unburdened by our packs. We were just carrying the sutra bags. It didn’t take that long to reach the top. Of course, with a lot of these temples you think that you’re at the top, and then there’s a couple of flights of stone steps to do, both before and after the gates. But that was ok, too. I remember the temple looking good. But I just found out that the original temple burnt to the ground during the Meiji Restoration. Since they had a prohibition against building new temples at the time — it was an anti-Buddhist phase of Japanese history — they bought a different temple in a different part of Japan. The whole thing was dismantled and then reassembled at the mountaintop. Can you imagine?

We reached the coffee shop at the bottom of the hill, and our packs at 10:30 am. So much for it taking all day! We then boarded the train at Tonohama station. We took the train all the way to Kochi Station, checked into our hotel, and dumped the packs. Then we backtracked out a few railway stops. We walked up to the first of our Kochi area temples, Dainichiji. This temple is on the edge of a big city park, and also the zoo. We might have explored the park, too, but our feet were at that point ready to fall off. Instead, we returned to Kochi, ate dinner at the grill in the basement of our hotel, and more or less collapsed.