Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 1 - My dogs are barking.

Shush, dogs. (In this metaphor, the dogs are my feet)

(Note: I know I haven't updated in a while. I know I'm awful at motivating myself to update this blog. But for the next however long, I'm going to be updating on a fairly regular basis [, I hope], because I'm doing the Shikoku Henro! It's an 88-temple trip around the island of Shikoku. I have decided to do it all-walking for now.)

Total distance walked: ~18km
Pictures for day one begin here.

Day 1 concluded. I’m currently staying in Jūrakuji, temple number 7. Contrary to expectations, my ankles and feet are more-or-less totally fine after a bit of sitting down (though we’ll see if that holds up tomorrow morning), but my shoulders are just killing me.

Anyway, I don’t have much to say about the places I went to. Most of it was just walking through the pretty countryside. But here’s a bunch of words. I'm uploading all my pictures to a Facebook album you should be able to view thusly. You should be able to figure out the locations by the descriptions.

Temple 1 - 霊山寺 Ryūzenji
This is where I got my hat, my map books, my nokyocho (納経帳, a book where you get cool stamps and calligraphy from each temple), and other fun things. Before that, though, I went to Lawson as I waited for the temple to open at 7AM. I don’t know if every temple opens then but it’s something to keep in mind. This is also where I got my first osettai (お接待, a present certain temples or people give out to walking pilgrims)--a can of orange juice which I immediately devoured. I started the day off in a great mood, after successfully calling temple 7 and making a reservation to stay the night, without any weird awkward hangups due to my awfulness at both the Japanese language and the concept of phones.

Temple 2 - 極楽寺 Gokurakuji (1.1km walk)
The walk here wasn’t very long. I remember the two temples being pretty much right next to each other. My guidebook says about 1km. That distance got a whole lot bigger near the end of the day.

Temple 3 - 金泉寺 Konsenji (3.1km walk)
This was the first long walk, but it wasn’t so bad. There were a lot of great views of the sakura trees in full bloom, though. This is a great time of year to be hiking around Shikoku.

Temple 4 - 大日寺 Dainichiji (normally, 6.1km walk)
Okay I don’t know if there was something wrong or out-of-date in the guidebook I was using, but it indicated that there was an excellent shortcut that turned out not to exist so I ended up getting lost and
adding a decent amount of time to my walk by essentially making a zigzag pattern by alternately trusting my phone navigation and the guidebook. This was an obnoxiously long walk. The temple was pretty, though. Looked like an RPG town. And I did get to see a whole lot of sakura trees.

Temple 5 - 地蔵寺 Jizōji (1.7km walk)
Mercifully, this one was close to the last one. Only a little over 1km away. But it felt waaaaaay longer than the first hike did. Imagine that. Temple 5 was really cool how it was laid out. There was a temple on the bottom but then a garden on a sorta cliff-looking thing behind it. Very pretty. I met a guy named Ken who also had just quit his job to do the Henro. He’s doing it by bicycle though. I wonder how that works.

Temple 6 - 安楽寺 Anrakuji (4.8km walk)
This one wasn’t so far away but my shoulders were just killing me. I didn’t take many pictures, but as usual the scenery was fantastic. At this point in the afternoon (3 or so) the sun was starting to cast long shadows and I kinda got antsy about making it to 7 in time. Apparently if you’re staying at a place you need to be there for check-in before 5:00.

Temple 7 - 十楽寺 Jūrakuji (1.2km walk -- how did this distance become so long all of a sudden?)
Oh my gosh you guys the first thing I did when I got to the room was run a bath and just soak my joints. It was amazing. My shoulders were killing me and my feet pretty much felt like they were on fire.

When I walked into the temple they immediately recognized me as probably the only foreigner who was staying that night. That was nice. I wonder why they were waiting for me specifically. I mean, I got there with about an hour to spare until 5PM, so I don’t think I worried them or anything.

I was feeling a little down (what with the exhaustion and the sheer magnitude of having to do this again 40-50 more times), but then I went downstairs for dinner and had a big ol’ traditional vegetarian buddhist dinner and met a Japanese lady who spoke like zero English and managed not to embarrass myself the whole time. I think I may have a walking buddy tomorrow!

And, so, that’s it. Now I’m going to put on some Japanese television and go the hell to sleep. Tomorrow is an early one.