Estimated distance walked this day: 10 kms
Cumulative distance walked: 447 kms
This was our final day on the Shikoku Pilgrimage. We took the train to the end of the Kotoden Nagao line, and walked about five minutes to Nagaoji. Nagaoji has a wide and spacious feeling to its temple courtyard, and a beautiful roof line on its main hall. Since we were coming to the end of our journey, I did a full set of prayers and chanting.
After we finished at Nagaoji, it took a little backing and forthing on the main road to find our bus stop. We should have been able to identify it because it had the 1200th Pilgrimage Anniversary banner right at the stop – duh. We waited for a good hour for the community bus to arrive.
After the few locals were dropped off at places like the local rec center, all the remaining passengers were pilgrims. The bus climbed up into the mountains, winding its way until we reached Temple 88, Ōkuboji, located less than a kilometer from the summit for Mount Nyotai. In my excitement to reach our final destination, I left my walking stick on the bus!
Since this is the final temple on the pilgrimage, it was one of the larger complexes. Many pilgrims leave their staff at Temple 88 to be burned, and we saw hundreds of staffs collected for this purpose. Even if I had wanted to do this, I couldn’t, as my staff was now wasurimono.
Since this was our last temple, again, I did all my prayers and chanting to completeness. Then, we went to the stamp office to have our nokyo books stamped. There, Ann and also completed a survey (they had them in several languages) about our experience as pilgrims.
We also walked around the general area of the temple, where we could see magnificent views into the valley. As I looked at the beautiful mountains, I thought seriously about walking down at least part of the way, rather than taking the bus back to train station. But this seemed unnecessary. I was now done. So we ate our lunch, and waited for the bus. When the bus appeared, there was my staff, right in the front! So it was not permanently wasurimono, and I was glad to have it back with me.
We returned to Nagao, then got back on the train, and rode it all the way back to Takamatsu. Ann and I went to an Irish pub to celebrate our completion of the pilgrimage. We ate fish and chips, and drank Guinness on tap, and chatted with the barkeep, a half-Japanese, half-Sri Lankan guy without any Irish blood. He gave us a little Ceylonese curry to use as a dip for the chips. Ann is sufficiently in touch with her Irish heritage that she impressed him with her ability to sling Gaeilge around. This was a jolly end to our last official day on the henro trail.