Temples 51, 50, 49, 48, 47, 46

Estimated distance walked this day:  14 kms

Cumulative distance walked: 269 kms

This was our first time doing temples out of order. It is rumored to be three times harder to follow the path backwards. However, what we mostly needed to do was head south, so I hoped navigation wouldn’t be too hard.

We started with Temple 51, Ishiteji, though, because it was close to our accommodations. This large urban temple complex is a hodgepodge of architectural styles and deities. A little something for everyone. They were broadcasting morning prayers and hymns on the loudspeakers, which was not exactly peaceful or contemplative.

All the temples that day were somewhere between one and five kms of each other. That was the upside. The downside was that there were a lot of them. We just started walking, and figured we’d get to as many as we could manage.

We visited Hantaji, #50, and Jodoji, #49, in the morning. It was a longer stretch to Sairinji, #48, so we ate lunch at a ramen house along the way. Somewhere south of Sairinji, I accidentally had us turn right instead of left at Inari shrine, and we literally walked in circles (ok, a square). I got us back on track.

Ann was flagging, so we took a break at the only bangai temple we visited on the trip: Monjuin, bangai temple #9. The place had four, or maybe five cats, all clearly related. I decided to get a stamp at this temple, if only because stamping your book is a source of income for temples, and a little obscure bangai temple is not going to get much more than a tiny fraction of what something like Ishiteji gets, being squarely in the city near a tourist attraction, and being one of the main 88 temples. When I stepped in the nokyo office, the woman there turned down Ugly Betty on the TV, shooed away more cats, and took my book. It was a lot more informal than the usual stamp office procedure.

Then it was up on a hill for Temple 47, Yakasaji, and while at that point we were pretty pasted, it was hard not to walk just one more km to Joruriji, and finish the sequence. At this point we were clear out of town. I likened it to starting on, say, Capitol Hill, and walking out to Preston. Joruriji was a nice temple, trees and flowers, and we were happy to have our day of walking end with a peaceful and positive atmosphere.

But since we were so far out, it was not simple to return. We caught the bus, rode it out to a transit center. The driver was concerned that the two foreign henro ladies needed help, so he leaped off the bus to make sure we knew exactly where to stand and what bus to catch from there.

It was rush hour, and traffic was abysmal. By the time we got into town, and then transferred on the street car…

Meanwhile, Dogo Onsen, the oldest, and perhaps most famous bath house in Japan, was hosting a multiday festival celebrating 120 years of continuous ownership. The onsen was only a few blocks from our accommodations. As we roved the crowded streets looking for dinner, every place was jammed. I was about to collapse into a low blood sugar crisis when we finally found a sushi house that could seat us.

After supper, Ann chose to hang out at the guesthouse, but I decided to walk back to the onzen. I had changed into the guesthouse’s yukata and zori for the walk out.  As a part of the festival,they were having a traditional dance competition as a part of the festival, and I took a little video. Then I stepped into the onzen, and took a bath. Nearly every tap was being used, and then there were another twenty or so women in the tub. Japanese women of all ages, shapes, and sizes were scrubbing at the taps or lounging in the tub.

When I toddled back in the city streets in my robe, you can imagine I was pretty tired. All the hot water was pretty relaxing, and I fell asleep immediately.

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