Shikoku Pilgrimage, Temple 22, Byōdōji (平等寺) –Temple of Equality
It is amazing how relaxing and luxurious one single day of rest on a pilgrimage can feel.
I felt so refreshed and rested after our good night’s sleep.
We meditated, had a simple breakfast and headed back to Tairiyuji temple (temple 21) to start our walk towards Byōdōji (temple 22).
I had forgotten my collapsible water bottle filled with iced green tea at the entrance to
the cable car.
They usually do not run the ropeway if no people are around to ride it, but they sent the big cable car up, just to bring my water bottle.
I was so touched.
We left the temple via the Niomon gate and headed down the mountain.
The Nio Guardians are fierce-looking guardians, carved out of wood and painted, that stand on each side of the beautiful gates at the entrances to most Buddhist temples.
These were old and a bit weather and time worn.
I enjoyed today’s hike very much.
At first we walked through the forest, descending on a steep trail from the mountain peak, and then continued our descent on narrow farm roads between rice fields.
Then the path cut through a thick forest and we climbed up steep steps through the trees for about an hour, followed by another descent to more narrow paved roads.
There were a few rest areas along the path today which were made especially for pilgrims.
They provided cool shade from the sun and a great space to sit and rest.
Some pilgrims who have no money wrote that they had slept over in some of these rest areas.
The pilgrims wrote that the mosquitos were ferocious and that they had had a miserable night.
To me, this pilgrimage is MUCH easier than I expected it to be.
My clothes are always clean and smell nice at the end of the day.
I wash them daily just to have a fresh start.
I get to have a fabulous shower every evening and most of the dinners we have eaten were very fresh and tasty.
Yes, we do eat too much fish and too much starch for my taste, and I much prefer to eat all vegetable meals and to drink fresh juices and fresh smoothies, but I am not at home, and I need to eat the food that chance brings to me…. And to be in a constant state of gratefulness and bliss.
Yes, it is hard to walk all day for long distances, but not harder than a full day of skiing or hiking a tall mountain in high altitude, or a full day of gardening in our garden in NZ.
The weather today was very fine and it is looking like a stretch of good weather is forecast for the next few days as well.
We crossed paths with a few other Henros today.
Most of them were Japanese men of about 50-70 years of age, while a few were younger.
Some said that they were only walking for ten days, doing the whole pilgrimage in sections until they complete it all.
We arrived at Byōdōji temple by two in the afternoon, about an hour before we were able to check into our guest house, Sazanka, right next door to the temple.
We performed our ritual offerings and prayers, chanted the heart sutra in Japanese in our slow and clumsy way, and got our pilgrimage book stamped.
By three in the afternoon, we were able to check into our room.
It was surprisingly spacious, clean and very comfortable.
We were able to shower together and soak in the hot bath together, because the place is too small to have separate men and women’s baths.
Other guests had to wait until we finished our soak.
We were able to do our laundry and dry everything in less than an hour.
We had green tea in our room and waited eagerly for dinner as all we had eaten today for lunch was a small bag of nuts and an apple which we shared.
We had not passed by any restaurants or convenient stores on our walk today.
We only passed by vending machines, and bought some green tea.
I think that we are consuming at least ten bottles of green tea per day (Most of them I consume, since Jules is like a camel who drinks very little.)
Dinner was a communal affair, with eight Henro guests, including us.
A man who spoke a bit of English, told us that he walks alone and that he has been to New Zealand twice, both times to go fishing in the South Island.
The other guests looked a little like old Japanese Mafioso, a little rough around the edges.
The Mama-San, the proprietor of the guesthouse, seemed to be used to all kinds of guests, like a person who had developed a thick skin to deal with all sorts.
Her place is clean with crisp sheets and pleasantly smelling ironed Yukatas.
The food was also good.
All the dishes were very small, but each had a different taste, texture and method of preparation.
There was a small dish of cooked Gobo root (Burdock), bamboo shoots with carrots, Radish pickles, steamed rice, noodle soup, a small local fish cooked in soy, a dish of grated daikon in Yuzu vinegar, very fresh sashimi cut very thick, cooked spinach and a cube of cooked pumpkin with a half of a baby eggplant and a few edamame beans.
By now, I am comfortable with sleeping on a thin futon on the Tatami floor.
I have no aches and pains and my feet are slowly adjusting to carrying me and my load, all day long.
There is something enjoyable and free in having a body and mind that do not NEED luxurious surroundings and an easy life.
It is so nice to be strong and be able to enjoy walking all day long without sweating, sleeping on the hard floor and eating dinner with rough Mafioso…..
The Mafioso guys stayed talking long after dinner was over, drinking their beer.
Our room was right near the dining hall, so I put in my ear plugs and went to bed by nine.
Jules was already surfing the ocean of the unconscious….. Sleeping like a tired baby.
I will wish you good night/day and end with a short poem by my teacher Paramahansa Yogananda:
“I will be a gypsy
Roam, roam and roam
I will sing a song that none has sang!
I will sing to the sky
I will sing to the wind
I will sing to my red cloud!
I will roam, roam and roam
King of the lands through which I roam.
By day, the shady trees will be my tent,
At night, the Stars shall be my candles twinkling in the sky
I would call the moon to be my lamp
To light my sky and way
I would be a gypsy
Roam Roam and roam
I would eat the food that chance may bring,
I will drink from crystal sparkling springs
I will put on my hat and off I go,
Like a wayward brook of long ago
I will roll the green and scatter joy
To birds, to leaves ,to the wind and the hills
Then I will depart to stranger and stranger lands
From east to west
Oh I will be a gypsy and roam roam and roam
But always I will lay me down to rest
I will sing to Thee my gypsy prayer
And find Thee always, everywhere…”
Day 10 (May 18th 2016)
22. Byōdōji (平等寺) –Temple of Equality
Overnight in Sazanka Guesthouse
Active walking 4:08 hours
Active day 5 hours