Day 2 – The Tokyo 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage
Day 2 – The Tokyo 33 Temple Kannon Pilgrimage
This Tokyo Kannon temple mini-pilgrimage is not spread across long distances, but we spend an average of half an hour at each temple, which means that it is impossible to visit very many temples in a day.
The weather in early March is still quite cool, so we need to get indoors often.
We take breaks in order to warm up, mostly in cafes.
Add to that time for lunch and the fact that the temples close at five in the afternoon, we have had to start walking early in order to complete this pilgrimage.
Even with starting early in the morning, it looks like we will have to finish visiting the temples on our return to Tokyo in late May, after we complete the Saigoku pilgrimage.
We went to breakfast early in the morning.
Our hotel does not offer a Japanese breakfast; instead, we enjoyed a breakfast of sourdough toast with avocado and a poached egg.
Then we took the train to where we stopped walking yesterday.
Today we walked 24 kilometers and visited ten temples.
Some of the temples are small family-owned temples.
They are not visited by many people at all, and most were surprised to see foreigners like us, ringing their intercoms and asking to visit the Kannon-Dō (prayer hall).
Privately owned temples are inherited for generations in one family.
Japanese monks are not celibate; they are married men with families.
If the family has a son, it is expected that he will attend Buddhist training to become a monk, so he can perform rights and rituals for the public.
If the family has only daughters, it is customary to entice one of the son-in-laws to go into training.
If the temple is very large, it is usually owned by the specific Buddhist sect of its tradition, or by the city or the government.
Sometimes there is an interesting story associated with a particular temple.
In Daien-Ji temple, we saw a shrine with a stone Jizo deity that stood surrounded by ceramic plates.
It even had plates piled up on top of its head.
The plates were put there by devotees who had prayed and were healed from headaches by their faith in the Jizo.
The friendly monk in Josen-ji temple told us that the Sakura cherry trees should bloom in about a week.
Looking at the trees, it seemed impossible that it would be warm enough for the trees to bloom so soon.
He was surprised to hear that we were walking the Tokyo pilgrimage, and even more surprised to hear that we plan to walk next the Saigoku Kannon pilgrimage.
We chatted about the Coronavirus madness that seems to grip the world and bring fear to the hearts of many.
In Seirin-ji temple, we chanted the Heart Sutra in front of a very dark Kannon statue encased in glass.
She was holding a lotus flower in her left hand.
The monk who was busy cleaning the car park and washing the buildings complimented our chanting.
He has been working on a huge wooden pagoda, building it using only traditional methods.
The construction started in the 1970’s, and it does not look like it will be completed any time soon.
In Hojyo-ji temple, they have a mini Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage right at the feet of the statue of Kobo Daishi.
We met there a gentle, friendly woman who pointed out some things for us to look at and told us that she used to live in New York and in Peru.
In Dentsu-in (a.k.a. Denzu-in) temple, we sat in their small and well heated tearoom, and ate the sour plum umebushi rice balls we had just bought in a small neighborhood store. Along with our tea flask, it was a small but satisfying late lunch.
For dessert we ate the cookies that one of the monks had gifted us.
At five in the evening, the temples closed and it had gotten windy and cold.
We took refuge in a very popular Macrobiotic cafe that serves great teas and cakes made without dairy or eggs.
The place was so popular that people sat outdoors in the wind, or waited a long time for a table.
The quality of the teas and cakes was worth the wait.
We are still adjusting to the different time zone, and feel tired and sleepy at nine o’clock in the evening.
Then we wake up at two in the morning and need to force ourselves to sleep until morning.
We were too tired to go very far for dinner, so we returned to the farm to table organic restaurant across from our hotel.
That night the restaurant was packed with people, all eating and laughing.
Not reading the news and being flooded with information about the coronavirus is much better for me.
I do not handle stress well, and life feels more pleasant when I am calm.
Sending you light and blessings,
With love to you,
Steps walked- 32,072
24 km. walked
Active walking time – 6 hours
Total walking time today – 9.5 hours
Enjo Temple 圓乘寺