Estimated distance walked this day: 14 kms
Cumulative distance walked: 338 kms
Temple 65, Sankakuji, was a good 45 kms away from our previous cluster of temples, so we took the train to (Iyo-) Mishima. Until we made it to Takamatsu, the next series of temples were in the vicinity of “rust belt” cities, that might have been prosperous a generation ago, but now looked a little worn around the edges. When we got off the train in Mishima, the tourist map outside the train station proudly noted where its municipal waste incineration plant was, and where it had located its crematorium. If this is what you put on your tourist map, I think you don’t have a lot to boast about in your town.
We dumped our heavy packs at the station (at the koin rokkaa) and just took our sutra bags. Then we walked to the Family Mart and bought ourselves a picnic lunch. If no one was looking, I hung the sack off my pilgrim staff like a bindlestiff – it was heavy. Otherwise, since I didn’t want to cause offense, I carried it in my hand.
Another long block up the hill from the Family Mart, and we were on the official henro path again. Once we got up and under the expressway, we were no longer in the somewhat depressing urban area, and on its surburban fringe. The houses thinned out into orange groves, and then we were on the wooded trail, climbing up. Sankakuji is not on top of Mt. Hiraishi (at 825 m), but about halfway up, set into the hill. This of course means the inevitable long stone staircase from the temple gates to the buildings at the top. They had some lovely flowers at their temple, and after we did all our temple rituals, we had a pleasant picnic lunch at its benches.
I meant to navigate back the way we came, but I wasn’t successful. We came down a road instead of the trail. I was nervous about being on the right road, because being on the wrong one would send us an additional 20 kms east, towards the next temple, as opposed to northwest, back to the rail station where we had all our stuff. However, by the time we hit the bottom, we came to something that looked pretty close to the indicated School for Handicapped Children on the map. From there, it wasn’t difficult to get ourselves back on track, and return to the railway station. From there, we took the train all the way to Kannonji, and settled in for the night.