Shikoku, Japan 88 Temples Foot Pilgrimage; From Zentsuji Town to Utazu Town, and Visiting Temples 76-78
This morning we were happy to have had enough time to meditate in our hotel room, before we headed out for our day’s walk.
The day was sunny, with temperatures that would reach 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
The walk from Zentsuji to the two temples that we visited this morning was an easy one, along rice fields and a sprawl of small towns connected by a long Main Street, a railway station and an expressway that cuts through the region.
We passed by an interesting community art project, a rice field that was planted with different colors of rice plants, to create frog and bug patterns in the rice field.
It was fun to see the field and the photos of the project.
As we walked between temples, a man called to us from the second floor of his house: “O’Henro San, O’Henro San, Chotto Matte Kudasai!”
Which means: “Pilgrims, Pilgrims, Wait one moment please!”
He ran towards us and gave us two small Japanese ceramic Jizo guardians that have a prayer written inside them.
We were touched and thanked him, gave him our Osamafudas (name slips) and a good luck charm that we had been given in one of the temples.
At temple 77, the woman who stamped our pilgrim’s book gave us an Osettai of Yakult drinks and caramel cookies.
We sat by the Nokyosho office and drank and had some nuts, before taking the time to enjoy the temple and perform all our rites.
I felt much better today.
Yesterday I developed a neck pain, but I worked on it during the night, reminding myself not to strain nor solidify the pain, but to allow LOVE to flow through me and to heal me overnight.
I woke up with only a slight sensation of the pain that I had developed yesterday, and even that disappeared by mid day.
After visiting temple 77, we had about two hours of walking towards our hotel and temple 78.
Since we had the time, we decided to have an “Art Break,” by visiting the Marugame Contemporary Museum Of Art.
The museum was a cool and modern place, with beautiful architecture and interior design, and we immediately felt like we had re-entered the 21st century.
The open spaces, the concrete and glass materials of the building, the good art and the super efficient air conditioning, helped me remember myself again….
I was no longer a long distance walking pilgrim, dressed in traditional clothing and walking along an ancient route that is stringed with beads of old legends and mysterious stories…..
I was an artist again…..
The Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art (MIMOCA) opened in 1991.
The artist, Genichiro Inokuma, donated 20,000 of his unsold works of art.
After we left our backpacks at the front desk, we saw an exhibition of his work entitled: “Faces.”
He divided large canvases into different numbers of squares, and painted loose portraits in each square.
They were really fun to see.
We also had delicious iced lattes at the cafe on the third floor.
From there we visited Temple 78, Goshoji.
It was nearly closing time, but we still had the time to enjoy the beautiful pond, the temple buildings and the underground hall with thousands of golden Buddhas donated to the temple in memory of loved ones.
During the walk to our hotel, a worker in overalls waved hello to us.
He ran to his truck and came back with Osettai for us.
He gave each of us $2 as gifts.
It felt so strange to be getting money and gifts as Osettai.
I am so used to paying everyone all the time, that it feels so strange to be getting money from people who have so much less than I do.
But as Jules reminded me, they are not giving it to me because they think I am needy.
They are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, and the “calling” of their hearts to show compassion and care for someone who is taking such hardships on the journey to become a Buddha.
What kind people….
We had no expectations for our hotel for the night.
We found out that it is best to just check in, take a long shower and scrub, do our laundry, find something good or at least decent to eat, write down notes or load photos and go to bed early.
But to our surprise, at the Sunroute Seto Ohashi Hotel in Utazu City, we got a big clean room with really good vibes.
There was a separate entrance way to the room, a sitting area, a selection of pillows with different softness and even a selection of beauty products to choose from.
You get to choose three items for $1.
I chose some facial masks, wet wipes and a Tempur-Pedic pillow.
The hotel did not have a laundry machine, but they directed us to a nearby laundromat that was open until midnight.
After our showers (and my facial masks), we walked over to the laundromat, put in our laundry and went to have dinner at an Udon restaurant that the friendly staff at our hotel recommended to us.
Sanuki Udon Noodles are famous in Kagawa prefecture.
It is said that they use a recipe that Kukai himself brought from China.
The ingredients are the secret to the superb taste.
They use the best quality grain, the cleanest water and the purest sea salt they can get.
The homemade Udon noodles in this region are known to be the best in all of Japan.
We have eaten handmade Udon noodles many times in Japan, but it is fair to say that we have NEVER tasted Udon noodles as good as this dinner was.
The chef came out of the kitchen to thank us for coming.
We left the restaurant and went over to collect our laundry.
Here is a little about the temples we visited today:
Temple 76- Konzōji – The Golden Storehouse Temple
Konzōji temple (originally called Dōzenji) was founded in the year 714 by Wake-no-Michi-Maro, the grandfather of Enchin (also known as Chisō Daishi.)
Chisō was a nephew of Kōbō Daishi and the sixth patriarch of Tendai Buddhism.
He was born here and later remodeled the temple after the pattern of the Green Dragon Temple (Ch’ing-Lungji) of Ch’ang-an, after his return from China.
At one time the temple had 132 residential halls for monks but extensive fires in the 16th century destroyed most of it and it was rebuilt on a smaller scale by the lord of Takamatsu castle.
Temple 77 – Dōryūji – The Temple of The Flourishing Truth
Doryu-ji Temple was founded in the middle of the 8th century as a family temple of the Wake clan, a local powerful clan.
A popular legend tells that Wake-no Michitaka (Doryu), once had the misfortune to fatally shoot his old nurse with an arrow while he was trying to shoot some mysterious light that appeared every night in his mulberry plantation.
Grief-stricken, Doryu carved an image of Yakushi-Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha, out of the light-haunted mulberry tree, enshrined it in a hall and prayed for the peace of the nurse’s soul.
Later Kobo Daishi visited this temple and created the larger Yakushi-Nyorai and placed this smaller one, inside of it.
The Medicine Buddha is still here today.
Among the many temple treasures, the 800-year-old Star Mandala scroll is an Important Cultural Property.
Chōyv, a descendant of Wake-no-Michitaka, later expanded the temple by adding twenty-three structures, including a Yakushi Shrine, Maitreya Shrine, hondō, belfry, and more.
He accomplished this by selling his own mulberry farm, jewelry, and other treasures.
However, the Tenshō fire in the 16th century reduced the temple to one-tenth its original size.
Temple 78 – Gōshōji – The Temple of Illuminating Local Site
When we entered the temple, I told Jules that the harmony I felt there, reminded me of Pure Land Buddhism, which believes in creating Paradise, not only by controlling one’s thoughts and feelings, but also in our environment outside.
They usually create beautiful gardens with running creeks, waterfalls, lovely buildings and harmony everywhere.
I am a big believer in their philosophy.
The temple was founded by Gyōgi Bosatsu and originally called Dōjōji.
It was later rebuilt by Kōbō Daishi and again by St. Ippen in the 13th century.
When St. Ippen rebuilt it, he also converted it to the Jishū sect of Pure Land Buddhism, and changed the name to Gōshōji.
At the time, the was an ongoing battle on Mt. Kōya between Shingon priests and wandering lay priests who also lived on the mountain part of the year and believed in the efficacy of chanting the Nembutsu.
Eventually the Shōgun ordered all non-Shingon priests to get off the mountain, and they ended up going to Shikoku and settling at this temple.
Legend says that when the temple’s bell was being cast, a strange man appeared and threw some unknown substance into the fire.
Therefore, ever since it was built, this bell can be heard from further away than any other bell.
On another note, we are staying here near the Seto Ohashi Bridge, in the Sunroute Seto Ohashi Hotel.
The Seto Ohashi Bridge is the world’s longest two-tiered bridge system. It stretches 13.1 km from Kurashiki, Okayama, to Sakaide, Kagawa, over the Seto Inland Sea, connecting the 5 islands in between.
The upper level is a motorway expressway with 4 lanes, and the lower level is a railway system for a dual track liner and a dual track for a Super-express line option, for the future.
It is a sister bridge of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Day 54 (July 1st 2016)
Our Location On The Earth:
T76. Konzōji (金倉寺) –Temple of the Golden Storehouse
T77. Dōryūji (道隆寺) –Temple of Flourishing Truth
T78. Gōshōji (郷照寺) –Temple of the Illuminated Hamlet
Overnight at Sunroute Seto Ohashi Hotel in Utazu City
Active walking 4 hours
Active day 7:30 hours
Walking grand total: 1106 km