Day 64 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Walking To Yunogo Onsen, And Remembering The Bigger Goal While Taking Care Of The Small Details
Day 64 – The Chūgoku 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage, Japan – Walking to Yunogo Onsen, and Remembering the Bigger Goal While Taking Care of the Small Details
There is a famous story that is used to illustrate what frame of mind a person has, and how it matters very much for his or her level of fulfillment, sense of purpose, happiness and self worth in life.
The story describes a scene in which three bricklayers were working on a building.
A passerby asked each one of the men what they were doing.
The first man answered, “I am laying bricks.”
The second man answered, “I am building a temple.”
The third man answered, “I am building a house for the Almighty God!”
By analyzing the answers, we can conclude that the first man was just going through the motions, laying down bricks without too much concern whether he was building a shopping mall or a temple.
It was just his job.
The second man has a career, not just a day job, while the third man has a “Calling.”
I heard this story many years ago, and the implication was that you wanted to be like the third man, to have a calling and a passion which help you overlook life’s daily difficulties, to get through the hard times.
The story took on a new meaning while I was walking this pilgrimage.
In my mind, we were walking the Chūgoku Kannon Pilgrimage.
We had a total of 37 temples to visit, while spreading love for all, blessings, loving kindness, and overcoming the belief in human limitations.
Our grander purpose was, and always is, to move in body, mind and heart towards Enlightenment.
When we met people on the road who asked us, “What are you doing?,” we always answered that we were walking the Chūgoku Kannon pilgrimage.
If they asked Why, we said “Satori,” or Enlightenment.
But this was NOT what they meant nor what they wanted to hear.
They wanted to know what we were doing that day, where we had slept the night before, and where we were going to that day.
We often looked stupidly at each other, and asked one another in English, “What was the name of the village we just stayed in last night?,” or “What is the name of the town we are going to today?”
While we always knew the direction we were walking towards, and the names of the villages and towns were marked on our map, we did not memorize the exact temple’s name and spelling, our guesthouse for the night, or the village down the road.
After ten days of walking the pilgrimage, we started making it a point to do so.
It is not so important to always keep the big picture or the calling at the forefront of your mind.
Sometimes, it is important to just get through the motions.
Today, I am just laying bricks, or more correctly, just walking twenty kilometers south.
Yes, I have a passion, a purpose and a calling, but today, I have a simple job….. walk south, get to the temple, climb a mountain and get down safely, find the hotel, take a bath, write my notes, rest, eat and sleep well….
What is more on my mind is to be patient, to be kind always and to everyone, to keep my Spirit up and not to allow limiting thoughts to drag me down.
Today we walked east from Tsuyama towards Yunogo Onsen in Mimasaka.
Instead of walking back west along the route we had already seen, continuing the walk from Katsuyama, we thought to see a new place, and still progress with making up the mileage we needed.
We were careful about our walking time today, because the weather forecast called for heavy thunderstorms throughout the day.
Yunogo Onsen is known as “Sagi no-yu,” or “Hot water of the Heron” (sagi is the Japanese word for Egret or heron).
1,200 years ago, a Buddhist high priest named En-nin-houshi discovered an injured heron bathing its wounded leg in the waters of a hot spring in Yunogo.
This is how the special healing powers of these waters were discovered, and they now have evolved into a spot where people come to relax and enjoy the waters.
There is a statue of En-nin with a heron outside of the “Yunogo Sagi Hot Springs” bathhouse, created in the exact spot where the heron’s hot spring was discovered.
At the entrance to town, there is a mechanical clock tower that every hour, tells the story of the Onsen town to musical notes and a narrated voice.
A giant rises up from the top of the roof, and it eats rocks with a pair of chopsticks.
It said that the giant was so big, that it took him only three steps to reach the city of Kyoto.
The recorded voice narrates the story of the samurail Musashi Miyamoto – born in Okayama in the 16th-17th centuries, who was famous for fighting with two swords at once.
The town is very small, although very well maintained.
Many of the old hot springs hotels looked deserted, although some still operate, and there are a few shops and eateries open.
We sat in a strawberry farm shop offering strawberry-banana smoothies, ice cream, waffles and other desserts.
We walked around the Onsen area and then returned to Tsuyama.
The thunderstorms started and a deluge of rain that soaked us in minutes, poured from the sky.
We ran into a barber shop and Jules got a haircut which he had wanted to get anyway.
By the time he was done, the sky had cleared and the sun was shining.
Since it is nearly the end of our pilgrimage and we will not be walking with our heavy backpacks any more, we stopped at an art supply store to buy me some gold pens for my art project at home.
I no longer have to worry about carrying any extra weight.
We ate an early dinner at the Sushi-Ro, our favorite conveyor belt sushi restaurant, which is super fresh, tasty and so ridiculously cheap, it makes eating sushi in the USA a sad joke.
You get unlimited green tea at your table, fresh grapefruit for dessert and they charge for a plate of two generously sized pieces of superb quality Salmon, Tuna, shrimp or crab nigiris, less then one dollar.
With love and kindness,
Steps: 20,888 steps
Distance Walked: 15.5 Kilometers
Active Walking: 3.5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Total distance walked on the pilgrimage so far: 1275.5 Kilometers
Temples Visited: None
Accommodation: THE SHIROYAMA TERRACE TSUYAMA VILLA, in Tsuyama,
A Hot Springs hotel with modern Western style rooms.
Has lovely mineral hot spring baths, a yoga room and a nice design.
(We took only breakfasts in the hotel because there are lots of restaurants nearby in town for dinner.)