Shikoku Japan 88 Temples Foot Pilgrimage; Kongofukuji, Temple 38 in Cape Ashizuri, The Temple of Indestructible Virtue
We really did not want to change hotels, but the comfortable Kokusai Ashizuri, at which we had stayed the night before, was fully booked for tonight.
So we made reservations for tonight at the Ashizuri Thermae Hotel.
It is considered a luxury hot springs resort, but we were able to get a good price at Agoda.com, which often has very competitive rates for hotels in Asia.
After another feast for breakfast, we checked out of the Kokusai, left them our backpacks and walked along the cliffs to visit the temple.
We had tried to stay at Kongofukuji temple’s lodging, but the man who called to make reservations for us, was told that they were not accepting guests on that date.
The day was rainy and very cloudy, and this cape felt very remote.
It is harder to get basic supplies to such remote areas, and many of the hotels in Cape Ashizuri looked to be in desperate need of renovations and updating.
The stories say that while staying here, Kobo Daishi saw Kannon, the Goddess of mercy, over the ocean.
Thus it is believed that souls who depart from this cape go to Paradise, which is where Kannon lives.
Unfortunately, this place has become one where people come to commit suicide, believing that their souls will be released into Paradise.
Maybe it was the rain, the grey day or the remoteness, but it felt like the souls of the desperate still hang around the cape.
The short walk to the temple was very beautiful.
Tall trees have created a shaded canopy over the road, and it felt like we were walking through a moist green tunnel.
The temple is very beautiful, with a few pagodas of different designs, a beautiful bell tower, copper lanterns that are hand engraved with Buddhist deities, a picturesque pond filled with goldfish, and a garden that is dotted with life size sculptures of the Buddha, Buddhists deities, and Kobo Daishi.
The temple also has a display of beautiful petrified wood, that left us in awe.
While most cut wood quickly rots and decays with the passage of time, the strong sun and frequent rains, some wood that is buried by sediment or ash is transformed into stone, by a process that takes millions of years.
There are examples of petrified wood that are more than two million years old, and look like beautiful marble.
After singing the Heart Sutra in Japanese and performing our prayers for all the people we have met on our pilgrimage who have given us many ossetai (gifts), and for all sentient beings, we walked leisurely around the temple and enjoyed the harmony of the place.
We have decided to take a rest day today, to go over our walking route for the next few days, possibly make some bookings at places to stay, soak in the Onsen at the Thermae hotel and get Jules a haircut.
We were told that there was a barber shop in the village, so we walked there after visiting the temple.
The barber was already cutting the hair of a man, and there was another man waiting to get his hair cut as well.
We asked for the price of a simple haircut, and were told that it would be ¥2300 ($23).
After the barber had finished cutting the hair of the first man, the second man decided to let Jules go ahead of him.
When we thanked him and refused, saying we have lots of time, he insisted and said that he will go home and eat lunch, and come back later.
The barber is an award winning barber, and he proudly displayed his many trophies in a glass case at the shop.
He also had a selection of old manga comics on the shelves, and an old collection of marine books by Jack Cousteau, which I leafed through while Jules was getting a very careful head and face shave with a straight edge knife.
The barber softened Jules’ skin with hot towels, shaved his head and asked if he also wanted a face shave.
While I was waiting, he asked his wife to bring me coffee and two delicious sandwiches.
I also found a beautiful book of children’s science projects, filled with photos of Japanese children doing experiments, some of which I remembered doing myself as a child.
After over an hour of careful shaving, the barber’s wife also gave Jules coffee and sandwiches, and he reduced his price to $20.
Jules told me that only in Japan, will someone give you MORE than you’ve asked for, and proceed to charge you LESS for it.
But Jules insisted on giving him an extra $10 for the shave and all the careful attention.
We walked up a steep hill about a kilometer and a half from the barbershop to reach the Thermae Onsen hotel, where we checked into our Japanese style room.
The hotel’s design is very modern and fabulous, but it is a bit run down.
I told Jules that I read some reviews written by people who were not pilgrims passing through and looking for comfortable places to stay and to refuel and renew their spirits, but by people who had made this their holiday destination and felt disappointed at the low level of upkeep.
Jules remained me that we are not here to notice little imperfections nor to write TripAdvisor reviews, but to SPREAD THE LIGHT to everyone and anyone we meet.
When did my husband get to be so wise?….
In the room, we decided to take a quick nap at about 3:30pm, before we start working on planning our walking route for the next week.
We ended up sleeping the rest of the afternoon.
It was getting dark when we got up, and we hurried to use the Onsen before dinner.
The Onsen was large and empty.
I soaked in the outdoor hot-bath first, overlooking the vast ocean.
A storm was raging over the peninsula, and strong winds and rain were pelting the hot bath.
I soaked my naked body all the way to my ears, and counted my blessings….
If we had not done this pilgrimage, would I be here watching this powerful storm while sitting in a hot springs pool overlooking the boats in the ocean?…..
I am so blessed…..
We wore our Yukatas for dinner.
There are only two other couples staying in the hotel tonight.
One of them had a birthday tonight, and the other couple, who did not know them, gave them two glasses of wine as a birthday gift.
After they blew out the candles on their birthday cake, they sliced it and shared slices of the cake with us.
Dinner was very good.
We ate a seafood Donburi, a fish stew with vegetables, vegetable tempura, stuffed calamari, sashimi, mountain potatoes, pickles, a seaweed soup and of course the birthday cake.
As the day turned out, we did not plan our walking route nor made any new bookings.
We slept, soaked and ate.
But I guess that was what we needed after all.
I told Jules that I still felt very guilty over canceling the very shabby guest house at the last minute.
I felt that maybe we should have stayed there and suffered for one night, instead of staying in fabulous places and feasting every night and every morning….
Who ever decided to call breakfast a Break-fast?
Who is fasting?
And who is breaking a fast?
We all overeat most of the time.
At least I feel like we are constantly feasting, eating too lavishly and often eating too much fish and other rich food….
I yearn for a juice fast….
But it will have to wait until we are back in Colorado.
As for the route planning, I know that we need to walk North out of the Ashizuri Cape, back up to the section of the road where we took a bus the day before yesterday, and then climb up into the interior mountains and walk northwest.
We have reservations for the next several nights, and beyond that, What will be will be….
All I know for sure, is that I am in need of NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH.
All else are illusions that lead nowhere.
In Tibet, masters practice the art of Tummo, breathing to rekindle awareness of the Truth and of the Spirit of Infinity within, that helps them to regulate temperature and to stay warm while sitting naked on the snow.
Milarepa, the Tibetan Yogi, wrote:
“Because I fear the great rain,
I seek for a house to live in.
Sunyata is my good house,
I find joy where I Am.
Because I fear the cold,
I seek for clothes.
The inner fire is my dress,
I find warmth in being strong and bold.
Because I fear being poor,
I seek for money.
But I find that the real gems,
Are all within.
Because I fear great hunger,
I seek for some food and beg,
Samadhi is the best food,
I feel hunger no longer.
Because I fear the thirst,
I seek for something to drink.
Mindfulness is a good wine,
I need nothing else to think.
Because I fear being lonesome,
I seek for a friend.
The void-bliss is the best friend,
I need no other sweet friend.
Because I fear going astray,
I seek a path which will not betray.
I find that the short path is all I need
I am not afraid to lose my way.
When Tummo is kindled within,
Woolen clothes are of nothing,
I have no need of the long robe,
All house works are disheartening.
When renunciation grows within,
All possessions are of nothing,
Of business I have no need,
All wealth to me has no meaning.
When perseverance grows within,
Children and disciples are of nothing,
I have no need of any visions,
They would only reduce my devotion.
When one discovers the Truth,
Why would one need any preaching?
For it only incites one’s pride.
I’ve no need of books and learning.”
Jules adds: “Today was the thirtieth day of our pilgrimage, not counting the days we spent at Koyasan before beginning at Temple 1, Ryozenji, just outside of Tokushima. This first month has gone by in a flash!
We have a little less than fifty days remaining, and finishing is so far away that I don’t have any idea if there will be many extra days left at the end of our pilgrimage to do some more conventional sightseeing.
I am grateful for each day that we have to breathe in the simple tasks we have set for ourselves, of walking from place to place, trying to grow more light-filled and joyous!”
Day 30 (June 7th 2016)
Our Location On The Earth:
T38 – Kongōfukuji (金剛福寺) –Temple of Indestructible Virtue
Overnight at the Ashizuri Kokusai Onsen in Ashizuri Peninsula
Active walking 1:35 hours
Active day 3 hours
Walking grand total: 612 km