Day 51 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Another Very Hot Day of Walking East from Yasugi, and First Glimpses of Daisenji, The Highest Temple on Our Pilgrimage

Day 51 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Another Very Hot Day of Walking East from Yasugi, and First Glimpses of Daisenji, The Highest Temple on Our Pilgrimage

This morning, I read the Japan Times, and the headlines said:

“Two die, nearly 600 taken to hospitals nationwide as heat wave hits parts of nation.
Unseasonably hot conditions gripped wide areas of Japan.
With a reading of 39.5 C, the town of Saroma, in eastern Hokkaido, sets the highest temperature ever recorded in the country for the month of May.”

The heatwave in this area is scheduled to continue for two more days.
I had a very modest plan for today, but we did not stick to my plan.

Since we had already walked yesterday to Yasugi, I planned today to walk only from Yasugi station to Temple #27, Unjuji Temple, and then to walk to our guesthouse for the night, located at the foot of Kiyomizudera Temple, Temple #28 on our pilgrimage.

We checked out of our comfortable Onsen hotel, and took the bus to the train station in Matsue.
We continued to work on planning our trip to the beaches of Okinawa, beginning right after the pilgrimage ends, at the Starbucks In Matsue station.

We had a chat with an American sitting next to our table.
He is married to a Japanese woman whose family comes from Matsue. They own a second house here, and he said it is a cool place to live for part of the year.

When we got to Yasugi station, we saw that they had coin lockers for our backpacks, and we decided to walk farther east, along our route, in order to cover more of the distance towards Daisenji, Temple #29.

Daisenji is the highest Nansho temple on our pilgrimage, and it will take a full day of climbing, just to get to it one way from the nearest station.
We have booked a two night stay at an inn at the entrance to the temple.

The day started off overcast, but then, as the clouds cleared, the temperature increased.

We walked on the hot and busy main road for a few hours, and I got a glimpse of the tall mountain that we will be climbing in just two days.
It looked so tall… but the temple is not located at the summit, it is just above the ski town of Daisen.

At a roadside rest area, we stopped to enjoy an excellent lunch of soba and tempura in a well-designed restaurant.

Relatively speaking, I have to say that we handled walking in the heat pretty well.
We were not dizzy nor too thirsty, and we kept up a good pace.
My nose was a bit dry from the heat and it was also obvious that we should keep the day short, since we still needed to check into our small guesthouse and get out of the heat.

After lunch, we caught the bus back to the train station, picked up our backpacks from the coin locker, and walked on a lovely, quiet rural road to the entrance of Kyomisadera Temple.

This is the first time that I had no idea just where our Ryokan was located.
Neither Google nor Apple nor any other mapping app that I have, had this inn listed.

But we did have a booking confirmation for an overnight stay with dinner and breakfast, and I thought that we should be able to ask around, once we get to the area.

A woman was weeding her garden, wearing a big hat to protect her face from the sun.
She smiled, and with friendly eyes, pointed up the mountain.

When we reached the temple’s parking lot, we still saw no sign of a guesthouse.
We stepped into a small restaurant and the owner explained that we need to walk up the steps to the temple and that the inn is on the right.
She also wrote for me the name of the guesthouse, “Shokinkan,” in Kanji characters, because there was no sign in English.

We got a spacious traditional tatami mat room overlooking the stone pilgrims’ path leading to the temple.
In the old days, before cars were invented, people always walked to the temples and guesthouses, and eateries lined the paths.

Pilgrims who were road weary and hungry stopped overnight at the inns, bathed, ate and drank at these old guesthouses.
This guesthouse has some old photos of how it looked over a hundred years ago.
It had no windows, and the shade of the old trees was the only method of cooling.

We are the only guests at the guesthouse tonight, and the attached room was made up as our bedroom, with futons on the floor, bath towels, and fresh pressed Yukatas for us to wear.
The inn is run by a family, a couple and their mother.
The husband does the cooking and he was already in the kitchen, preparing our dinner, three hours before we asked to dine.

I asked about a coin laundry, and they told us to give them our laundry and that they would do it for us.
They filled the stone bath for us, and we showered together and then bathed in the hot bath.
It was nice to remove the heat of the day from our bodies.

We had a fabulous vegetarian dinner, which included mock eel, which was delicious!
An array of creative appetizers and dishes filled the table.

The vegetarian cuisine,called Shojin Ryori, is said to have been eaten by trainee monks at Buddhist temples since ancient times.

But I can tell you that none of the monks in the olden days ate such lavish vegetarian dishes as these.
I have read a few personal accounts of Japanese Buddhist monks who practiced to become priests, and they described the food as being tasty but very basic.
A typical meal would have been steamed rice, pickles, miso soup, a slice of tofu, and one or two vegetables followed by one cup of tea.
Some said they felt it was barely enough food to feel full after a busy day of labor.

Our feast was a multi course meal and included so many dishes, we could only have a small taste of some dishes.
The mock squid made from white Konyaku was very delicious.

From our room, we could see the top of the pagoda of Kiyomizudera temple.
Tomorrow, we will visit the temple and then visit nearby Unjuji Temple.

Tomorrow, rain is predicted for the afternoon.
It looks like it will be the breaking point for the heatwave.

Love and blessings to you,

Daily Stats:
Steps: 21,736 steps
Distance Walked: 16 Kilometers
Active Walking: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours

Total distance walked on the pilgrimage so far: 1043.5 Kilometers

Temple Visited: none

Accommodation: Ryokan Shokinkan at the foot of Kiyomizudera temple in Yasugi.
An old traditional inn offering spacious Japanese style rooms, fast internet and delicious Shojin Ryori vegetarian Buddhist Cuisine for dinner and breakfast.

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