Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 27 -- Taking it easy!

Total distance: a very leisurely 65 km

After two days of going super hard, I decided to plan for a particularly easy day. I took my time in the morning and got going at about 8 (but wasn’t I just talking about how nice it is to get started before seven yesterday?), kept a pretty moderate pace throughout the day, and managed to get to my ryokan around 4:30. Total planning success.

Despite the leisurely attitude, I did end up hitting 13 temples today. The temples in Kagawa are really crammed together. The first two, in fact, shared a stamp office.

Temples 68 and 69 観音寺 Kanonji & 神恵院 Jinnein (~1.5 km)
As soon as I stepped onto the temple grounds, there were signs directing you to different parts of the grounds. To the left was temple 68, and to the right was temple 69. Interestingly, even though there were two temples in one place, it still wasn’t a very big area. Still, there were some wonderful gardens and statues and whatnot.

Temple 70 本山寺 Motoyamaji (4.6 km)
I kinda lost my way on the way to 70. When the temples are really far apart it’s pretty easy to figure out which way you’re supposed to go because the map generally says something like “follow route 11 for TWENTY KILOMETERS” but when they’re so close together you have to make lots of twists and turns.

However, it didn’t end up being a problem because Motoyamaji is home to a super tall 5-story pagoda. I saw it from a distance and kinda just ignored the map and rode towards the huge tower and trees. There were signs all over the place talking about how they’re going to start some remodeling construction on it soon, so I guess it was good timing on my part, getting to see it without scaffolding all over the place.

Temple 71 弥谷寺 Iyadaniji (11.4 km)
This was today's helping of stairs. The ride up to the temple base was no picnic, and for the last kilometer or so the road was too steep for my feeble leg muscles to keep up so I walked a lot of it. But when I got there I was greeted with a sign that said I had to climb about 530 stairs to get to the temple proper. Excellent.

So yeah, Iyadaniji was pretty mountainous and wooded. Very pretty though.

Temple 72 曼荼羅寺 Mandaraji (3.7 km)
I approached this one from the top, which right off the bat afforded me an excellent view of the whole temple. It was kinda small but I really liked the layout.

Temple 73 出釈迦寺 Shusshakaji (0.4 km)
That tour bus I kept meeting yesterday had just arrived at Shusshakaji by the time I got there. Everyone on the tour now notices me, and they even invited me to chant with them, which was a good opportunity to test how well I memorized the heart sutra. I can do a little more than half of it from memory at this point, which I consider a pretty decent accomplishment for how little work I’ve been putting into it. I need to buckle down and learn the rest of it by heart.

This one was pretty high up on a hill, and it had a pretty fantastic view of the surrounding city. Enjoyed it.

Temple 74 甲山寺 Kōyamaji (2.7 km)
I’m sure glad I took a bunch of pictures. All these tiny temples being so close to each other makes it really hard to differentiate them in my memory.

This one had a lot of stairs too, but they weren’t consecutive so it didn’t seem as bad as Iyadaniji.

Temple 75 善通寺 Zentsūji (1.6 km)
This one was absolutely enormous. It had two entrances, one with a huge stone bridge arcing over a small stream, lots of shops and goodies, and tons of people. I don’t think the majority of them were doing the pilgrimage, but I guess when you’re Buddhist and you live close to a big temple and it’s a Sunday afternoon it’s a good time for a stroll through the temple grounds.

Temple 76 金蔵寺 Konzōji (3.6 km)
On the way to Konzōji I stopped at CoCo Ichiban, my favorite curry restaurant, because spicy curry always energizes me, and it was feeling like a pretty lazy day. I was really tired, too, for some reason. Not exhausted, but sleepy. Yawning all the time, etc. I wonder if that’s just what happens when you spend all your time in the sun.

Speaking of, I totally understand why everyone says not to do the pilgrimage during the summer months. Over the past few days it’s been pretty summery, with little-to-no cloud cover the whole time. Luckily, since it’s still only April (though only barely) the mornings are quite chilly, which is great for when I’m cycling long distances. I can’t imagine having to deal with crushing heat all day.

Temple 76 was really expansive. Not a ton of buildings, just a lot of wide open space. It also didn’t have any grass. I wonder if that’s just to save money on caretakers or if there’s some other reason. I don’t think it’s a Buddhist temple thing—some of the temples have grass growing all over them.

Temple 77 道隆寺 Dōryūji (4.1 km)
There were pigeons all over this temple. That’s all I really remember of it.

Temple 78 郷照寺 Gōshōji (7.4 km)
No grass, no dirt, but tons of gravel. This one was up on a hill too, so I had another nice view of the city. Met the bus group again. They must have stopped for lunch as well. 

Temple 79 天皇寺 Tennōji (5.7 km)
This one had a lot of wild plant life and a lot of statues. Fun fact: did you know that when there are two statues on either side of a thing, the left one has its mouth closed and the right one has its mouth open? True story. It’s really fun noticing that whenever you look at the statues here.

Temple 80 国分寺 Kokubunji (6.7 km)
Last one of the day. By this time I was super tired and pretty pumped to get to the ryokan and call it a day.

Still, the temple itself was quite nice. Reminded me more of a park than a temple. Lots of trees and walking paths. By this time in the day it was pretty late. About 4:30. All temples close at 5PM so I timed that one real well.

Then I went back to the ryokan and hit the hay.

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