Day 56 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Hasedera, Temple #30, and Thoughts About Chance Encounters

Day 56 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Hasedera, Temple #30, and Thoughts About Chance Encounters

Last night I had lots of dreams.
Many of them were confusing, and I was unsure as to how to interpret them.

Our plan for today was to visit Hasedera, Temple #30, and then complete the kilometers left of our walk from Daisenji to Kurayoshi.

Hasedera Temple was located near our guesthouse, but it was a very steep climb up to the temple.
The climb was entirely on stone stairs, and we climbed up and up, to about a thousand feet above sea level.

At the temple’s office, we met the priest and his wife.
He saw our nearly completed scroll and pilgrimage book, and asked us many questions.
He brought over a map of the region, and explained that from our next temple, #31, Butsuji, the shortest route forward is on a cars only road, and we would not be able to walk on it.
He suggested backing up to Kurayoshi and walking to Tottori on the northern coastal route.
It is much longer, though, and would add about 15 extra kilometers to our walk.

He also gave us some gifts, two Kannon Goddess talismans to attach to our bags for protection, and a set of postcards of the horse paintings enshrined in the temple.

The hall of the 50 horse paintings on wood panels was locked and he had no time to climb up to the main hall to show it to us.
Instead, he gifted us a series of postcards of the paintings, some stretching over four meters long.

The main hall and the Neo gate of Hasedera are a bit weather worn.
The wood pillars are bowed with age, and moss has claimed most of the wooden roof.

Still, its location along a wooded path full of of old trees, on top of Mt. Utsubuki, is very charming.
Sakura and Azalea trees bloom in the nearby park, and you can see a good view of Kurayoshi and the sea beyond.

After saying our prayers for the blessings of all Beings, we chanted the Heart Sutra as a light rain started.
We decided to walk down the mountain on the forest path, and see the park.
Beautiful old stone sculptures of Kannon lined the path to the temple.
Under the canopy of big trees, we did not feel the rain too much.
But as we made our way down, the rain intensified and we put on our raincoats and opened our umbrellas.

Hase-dera Temple was founded in the year 721, and it is said that an eleven faced Kannon sculpture was placed in the main shrine.
We only saw smaller wooden Kannon on display in the main shrine today.

The temple was associated with a supportive local lord Yoritomo, who founded the Kamakura Shogunate and at that time, in the year 1193, the temple had seven temple halls.

It declined with the changes of the politics and times, and in the year 1557, Nanjo Genji fought Toyotomi Hideyoshi for control of the mountain.
The temple grounds and all of its halls were burnt to the ground.
Only the Kannon-do, the hall where the statue of the Goddess Kannon was enshrined, escaped the fire unscathed.

People were in awe and shocked at the spiritual power of the statue of Kannon, and the faith in the Goddess got deeper and deeper.

In the year 1610, Lord Imurai Nakamura blessed the spiritual image of Kannon, and started the reconstruction of the temple.

Since it was really pouring rain and we were fairly close to our guesthouse, we walked back to our Ryokan to put away our scroll and pilgrimage book.

As we arrived back, the rain intensified even more.
Since the forecast said that the rain should only last another hour, we decided to wait before we continued our walk.
I promptly fell asleep, and an hour and a half later, the rain did indeed subside.

We left the hotel and started walking, to make up the balance of the distance from Daisenji to Kurayoshi.
The weather now was significantly colder, and we enjoyed the cool air very much.

We walked for about 15 km, not minding at all the late hour.
We stopped at a lovely café along the way, whose owners had a passion for both coffee and classical music.

They made us coffee that they had brought from Vienna, a cheese toast, and a cheese cake that is the specialty of the husband, and then they gifted us a fruit dessert.
Everyone in the small cafe wished us good luck and a good walk when we left.

After our walk which was along typical urban sprawl, we returned to Kurayoshi station.
Before returning to our guesthouse, we had an early dinner at a nearby small, family run Pasta and Pizza Restaurant.

It was a mother and son shop, and the food they made tasted good, perhaps
not like a chef trained in the culinary arts, but more like people who love Italian food, perhaps even have been to Italy once, and learnt to cook from recipes they found in cook books.
It was lovely and good.

When we returned to the white walled warehouse area in which our guesthouse is located, we decided to walk over to buy a chocolate or an ice cream for dessert.

As we walked the narrow streets to the Lawson’s convenience store, it occurred to me that maybe I would see again the young man with the peeling skin affliction that we saw in the Lawson’s the night before.
The man I prayed for at night, hoping for his healing and well being.

But I quickly brushed that thought out of my mind.
If you have ever been to Japan, you might have observed that most people spend only two or three minuets in a convenience store.
They know exactly what they come in for, they know where in the store it is located, and they pick the item up and pay.
They are in and out the door in a flash.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw him paying for his Bento box dinner and drink at the cash register, when we entered the store.

I was in awe.
Jules was, too.
In fact, he mentioned to me that we were not even supposed to go to the Lawson’s, but only to go back to our room.
We took a detour on the spur of the moment.

What is the significance of this not so accidental encounter two nights in a row, I wondered.

It reminded me of the same thing that had happened to me in Colorado before we left.
I kept seeing the same solemn looking man in a supermarket on our way home.
It was not even in a supermarket that we usually go to.
In fact, we had only stopped on our way to buy something else we needed.

He was there every time.
I had noticed him because he looked so lonely and almost like a homeless man, buying just enough groceries to fit in his tiny backpack.
But when I looked at what he was buying, it did not seem like food a homeless man would eat.
He carefully picked out one onion, one carrot, and a roasting chicken.
Stuff he would have to cook to be able to eat.

Why was I seeing him again and again?…..
I was also only moments in that supermarket….
Why did our paths cross so frequently….

Some things will stay a mystery to me for now….

Wishing you a wonderful day or night,

Daily Stats:
Steps: 26,409 steps
Distance Walked: 19.5 Kilometers
Active Walking: 4.5 hours
Total Time: 7 hours

Total distance walked on the pilgrimage so far: 1114.5 Kilometers

Temples Visited: Temple #30, Hase-dera 長谷寺 in Kurayoshi

Accommodation: Shofuso ryokan, in Kurayoshi.
A small inn with small but very clean Japanese style rooms, an O’furu bath, fast internet and a good location in the historic Machia and white warehouse district of town.
Offers meals by prior arrangement (we took only breakfast).

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