Shikoku Japan 88 Temples Foot Pilgrimage; Walking Northwest from Mihara to Enkōji – Temple 39, the Temple of Perpetual Light
This morning, our host arrived early to take us from the little farmhouse where we had spent the night to their Sake brewery shop, where they had laid out a feast for our breakfast.
After the four of us ate together, she packed for us some homemade steamed buns filled with sweet bean-paste, two bananas and two boiled eggs for our lunch.
It was a sunny day, which quickly turned into a very hot and steamy day.
Because we had chosen to take the southern route to get to their guest house, we had walked yesterday an extra hour and a half to get to them.
That meant that today, we would have to walk back an hour and a half, just to pick up the trail towards Temple 39.
The friendly couple convinced us in their very caring way, that we would not be cheating if we let them drive us to the beginning of the walking trail, since we had already walked yesterday for a long time out of the way, and that we did not need to reverse the detour to get back to the route today.
I needed no convincing, since they were right and since Jules was nearly limping, and we still had a long way to go past Enkōji temple, to our hotel in Sukumo.
They dropped us at the trail and we thanked them a million times for their most enjoyable hospitality, their delicious food and the comfortable house which they had allowed us to enjoy.
We walked by wide rivers and green rice fields, past big bridges and little villages.
It was a beautiful walk.
When we arrived at Enkōji Temple, we saw a homeless pilgrim.
It was easy to tell that he was homeless by the size of his rucksack, by the way he moved and by his toothless smile.
We gave him $10 and he thanked us a lot.
Later we saw him continue to beg as he walked down the path towards temple 40.
He stopped in many shops, restaurants and auto bodyshops, asking for donations.
It looked like most people ignored him.
Temple 39 was founded by the monk Gyōki in the year 725 AD.
Later, in 795, Kōbō Daishi came here and struck a spring with his cane by hitting the ground.
The spring was known as Hōisui, “The Blessed Healing Water.”
The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, with the present buildings dating back to 1891.
The temple bell, which Jules rang as he entered the temple grounds, is a national treasure.
The bell is said to have been made in either the 6th or the 8th century.
The temple has a statue of a big Red Turtle with a bell on its back.
Legend says that in the year 911, a red turtle came out of the sea and brought a bell to the temple, by carrying it on its back.
The bell is now on display in a museum in Tokyo.
The pond on the temple grounds (Kame No Ike) is where this magical turtle used to live.
It is now known as a pond with water that can heal people with eye problems.
After doing all of our ceremonies, we rested on a shaded bench on the temple grounds.
We ate the steamed buns, bananas and hard boiled eggs that the guesthouse owners had given us this morning.
The day got hotter and we chose to walk by the road instead of into the forest, with the hope of finding a coffee shop that serves iced coffee.
Farther up the road we found the “Funny House Good Coffee Smile Cafe,” and entered its yellow building.
The owner had a fondness for old Japanese movies and we enjoyed sitting on her sofas, drinking iced Cafe Au Lait, cooling down in the air conditioning and listening to old movie show tunes.
Jules was limping all day today with his blistered little toes hurting very much.
We had to go slower and I really sympathized with him, since not so long ago, both of my feet had similar blisters in exactly the same spots.
I waited for him every few hundred meters to catch up and tried to encourage him.
He was a real trooper to walk today for 23 kilometers with so much pain.
We arrived in Sukumo city by late afternoon.
Our hotel is located at the far end of town, and we got to walk through most of the town.
An old man ran out of his clothing shop to chat with us and ask where we were from.
He was a sweet man and he said that there is an Onsen within driving distance, if we needed a soak, but Jules really was unable to continue.
He needed to take off his shoes and attend to his blistered feet.
The Akisawa hotel describes itself in this way on Google maps:
“A straightforward hotel with a restaurant, gender-segregated communal hot baths and free parking.”
We laughed at the funny description, but when we arrived there, we saw that they had not boasted.
It is a basic straightforward hotel with basic rooms, mediocre communal hot baths, a descent restaurant with fairly good food (I do not know about the free parking, since we arrived on foot).
It is a forgettable hotel along our pilgrimage route, but the woman at the front desk helped me to make reservations at two more places along the route.
Our room has air conditioning and it does not smell of cigarette smoke.
There is fast free internet and they had a washer and dryer in which we washed our clothes.
I would have preferred to stay at a nicer small place that I found online called “Joint Sukumo” (Joint-Sukumo.net) but it is located another 7 kilometers down the path, which would have made our day too long to walk with Jules’ hurting feet.
Our hotel will do well for one night.
Tonight we rubbed Jules’s feet with cream mixed with essential oils and offered them much gratitude for carrying him so well for so long.
Way to go, feet!!!!
As we laid on the hard bed at night, in our ugly “Western Style” room, digesting a mediocre dinner, I fantasizes about my Tempur-Pedic mattress in our house in Colorado.
I fantasied about eating fresh raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, a fresh Endive with balsamic vinaigrette… A fresh fig….all the delights in WholeFoods supermarket….oh my God how I miss them…..
Jules laughed and reminded me that we should accept what comes, not have aversions nor preferences, because after the pilgrimage is over, we only have one month to enjoy Colorado before we are heading towards India, and back to eating whatever comes our way….
Enkōji, Temple 39, is the last one in Kochi Prefecture.
It marks the end of the ascetic training portion of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage.
Tomorrow we will enter Ehime Prefecture, the Dojo of Enlightenment, by visiting Kanjizaiji, Temple 40.
This point is traditionally considered to be the midpoint of the entire Pilgrimage.
Day 33 (June 10th 2016)
Our Location On The Earth:
T39 – Enkōji (延光寺) –Temple of Perpetual Light
Overnight at Akisawa Hotel in Sukumo City
Active walking 5:10 hours
Active day 7 hours
Walking grand total: 687 km