Shikoku 88 Temples Foot Pilgrimage; Walking in the rain from Iwamotoji, Temple 37, to Tosa-Saga
This morning we woke up at 5:00 AM to get ready for Iwamotoji temple’s morning service at 6:00 AM.
We sat in the Hondo (main hall) under the beautifully painted ceiling with its five hundred paintings, together with a group of women Henros-by-van, and a walking Japanese man Henro.
The temple’s priest was a young man with an affinity for drumming.
He banged out the rhythm of the Heart Sutra on a big Taiko drum, and chanted at a speed that we could not follow, even though we were given the English lettering of the Sutras.
Breakfast was eaten at a large communal table with the other pilgrims, across the way at the Shukubo.
The women made sure to fill our rice bowls and miso soup bowls, and we were happy to have a salad and some cut fruit, instead of fish.
There was also steamed spinach in sesame sauce, tofu with ginger, pickles and cooked root vegetables.
The forecast was for a very rainy day.
We put on our raincoats, and covered our backpacks with their rain covers.
Everyday, regardless of the weather, we pack everything inside our backpacks in large ziplock bags and inside dry sacks.
At the temple’s shop, I bought a second rain cover for my Henro hat, to double it up and make it more rain proof.
The rain started almost immediately after we left the temple at 7:45 AM, waving goodbye to the women as they drove by us in their comfy air conditioned van with their white gloved driver.
We followed route 56, walking South for hours.
The route climbed up and down, but not too steeply.
We were soaked and after hours of walking, we came upon a large roadside cafe.
It looked like it was sent from heaven, with a sparkling clean glass door and clean carpets.
I hesitated to enter with my dripping clothes.
The manager welcomed us at the door with two clean white towels and we wiped the rain off our raincoats, bags and my big Henro hat.
We sat in the nice airy restaurant and each had an iced cafe au lait, sweetened with real maple syrup, and a Chiffon cake to share.
I have not had coffee in a VERY long time, but it tasted like the nectar of the gods.
I was dreaming that in the time that it took us to enjoy the drinks and to rest, the rain would ease a little, but it was not to be.
So we strapped on our backpacks and headed straight out into the pouring rain.
Jules suggested that we put on our rain pants, but we were only about an hour away from stopping for the day, so we decided to keep on going.
That one hour turned into two hours, as we decided to keep walking, to save ourselves a few miles off tomorrow’s walk.
By that time, my pants were completely soaked, as were my shoes, socks and underwear.
The only parts of my body that felt somewhat dry were my upper body, protected by my raincoat, and my face protected, by my double-covered Henro hat.
Cars and trucks on the road were splashing us with dirty water.
At one point a wave of rain splashed right into my face.
But I did not feel miserable nor sorry for myself.
Some days are wonderful and others are less so…
I noticed the mist rising from the surrounding mountains, the big river flowing fast, the Shinto shrines we passed with their pairs of lions, one with its mouth open and the other with its mouth closed.
There were other places to stop and eat or drink, but we weren’t hungry, and wanted to get to our accommodation for the night and get out of the rain.
It was so rainy that I could not even take my camera out of my bag and take any photos.
When I stopped to use the toilets in one rest area, I had to peel off my pants as if I were wearing a wetsuit.
I was truly soaked to the bone.
After walking for 26 kilometers, we boarded a one car train to Tosa-Irino, where we’ve booked a room in a scenic park, at a small lodge that is called “Nest West Gardens.”
There was only one other option of a tiny guesthouse listed in our map book, but their phone had been disconnected.
We did not expect much from the dome-shaped lodge, because the exterior seemed a bit weather worn.
The lodge is located in a lovely park, right on the water, and the area gets gusty winds, salty ocean spray and strong sun.
But it is really a lovely place.
We got a Japanese Tatami room which is always my first choice in hotels that offer both “Western Style” and “Japanese Style” rooms.
The reason that I always choose the Japanese style rooms, is because many hotels “decorate” their Western style rooms with such atrocious furniture that the place looks like a cheap version of a “Red Roof Inn” in the USA.
They have a much better sense of style and design when they decorate their Japanese style rooms.
We put all of our clothing including our raincoats into the washing machine and soaked them with lots of soap.
The drain water on the highway is often mixed with runoff from the sewer line when it pours so much, and we were splashed with it repeatedly today.
Nest West has a lovely cafe, and we passed by their selection of home made cakes on the way to our room.
We decided to shower and soak in the hot baths, and later to sit in the cafe and enjoy some afternoon tea and a cake.
When we got out of the baths, clean and refreshed, there were almost no cakes left in the cafe.
Apparently this place is frequented by many people who come to enjoy the beautiful views and the park, and have a good slice of homemade cake along with an excellent tea.
Still, it was nice to enjoy a good loose leaf herbal tea for me and a good Oolong for Jules, along with small slices of chocolate pecan cake.
I felt revived again.
The Nest West Garden gave us very cute Yukatas, (summer Kimonos) that were printed with blue and yellow tiny fish.
Wearing them made me feel like a kid again, wearing a superman pajamas.
Tomorrow, we will take the train back to the part of the route where we stopped walking today, and we shall walk to our lodge where we have planned to stay another night.
We had to do this because there are no places to stay on this route and the distance was too great to cover in a day.
The plus is, that tomorrow we shall walk without our heavy backpacks.
The only minus is that tomorrow it is also forecast to rain….
At least I know that I can do our laundry upon our return, take a good soak in the hot baths, wear my cute Yukata have a good herbal the in the afternoon and a homemade cake, that is if a large group of people don’t get here before me…
Day 27 (June 4th 2016)
Our Location On The Earth:
Overnight at the Nest West Lodge inside the Tosaseinan Park in Irino
Active walking 5:51 hours
Active day 7 hours
Walking grand total: 555.5 km