Day 2 – Atago To Itoshima, Kyushu 108 Temple Pilgrimage, Japan
Morning arrived too soon for me and I woke up late.
We put on our freshly laundered clothes and went for breakfast.
The hotel has a coin laundromat, which is a blessing for people like us who walk with only one set of extra clothes.
The breakfast at the Onsen hotel was everything I love.
A miso soup, steamed rice with an array of seaweed and pickled vegetables including umebushi (salty pickled plums).
I drank lots of green tea, feeling very dehydrated.
I hope that I will adjust quickly to daily long walks.
I had a small serving of fermented soybeans, called Natto, served with a dollop of mustard and soy sauce, a salad and some cooked lotus root.
We decided that until we get stronger, we will do the walking in the upcoming days in reverse, in order to make sure that we get to the temples before closing time at 5pm.
My feet are achy and my walking pace is pretty slow.
I am finding the walking and the intense heat very difficult.
We have no air conditioned malls to go into to cool off and almost no cafes that serve anything that I would want to drink.
I cannot drink coffee because it upsets my stomach, and I don’t want to eat sweet cakes, which is what those cafes serve, just because I want to rest my feet and find shelter from the heat.
This weather is unprecedented.
It is the end of September already, but it is as hot as the middle of July.
Feeling weak and achy leaves me feeling sad, but I am motivated to push through this adjustment period.
In the past, it has taken us almost two weeks to get adjusted to walking all day, every day.
We arrived at Takayoshi Temple #107 (also known as Ryuzen-ji Temple.)
It is located in Itoshima, west of Fukuoka.
It is surrounded by the sea, with views of Raizan Mountain.
Tomorrow, we will be heading towards a temple located on the slopes of Raizan mountain.
People come to Takayoshi temple #107 to pray for good luck or to ward off evil, for prosperous business, for recovery from illness, and for academic improvement.
The principal image is the Shogun Jizo Bosatsu, a Jizo deity that is believed to help overcome various disasters and conquer various demons.
The temple also has images of Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect, a set of 13 Buddhas, and other statues.
The priest, his wife and their adult son, invited us into their home for cold green tea after stamping our scroll and book.
They chatted with us about the journey and how different it is from walking the Shikoku 88 pilgrimage, in which the temples you walk to, lay neatly in a round shape around the island.
The son has walked the Shikoku 88 pilgrimage, but he did it in stages, not all in one go the way we did it.
The Kyushu 108 zigzags all over the island, with lots of possibilities of getting lost and needing to walk back to reach other regions.
It is most definitely a challenging pilgrimage to do on foot, and at this stage, so early in the game, I truly cannot even imagine how I will be able to complete it all on foot.
We thanked them and continued walking towards Seiganji Temple #83 which is located up in Imazu with the Imazu Bay facing Fukuoka.
We were hungry and tired and needed a lunch and some time to rest our feet.
No restaurants or cafes were open along our route, and the shortest path was along the river, where we couldn’t even find a bench to rest on.
We bought some snacks in a shop selling traditional sweets, and rested in a grassy patch at a playground, where we had the tea I had brought with us, and the mini scones and warabi mochi that we had bought in the shop.
After two more hours of walking in the sun, we decided to take a two kilometer detour to a cafe that I saw on my map.
They were open and had a lunch set with konji rice and vegetables, pickles and tofu, much like the breakfast we just ate this morning, but eating it again did not excite us.
But it was awesome just to be in a cool cafe and not walking in the heat.
We talked about why walking all day seems to be so hard for us.
At home, even when we run an hour each day and swim for one hour more, we still spend most of our waking hours sitting.
We sit in the car when we drive to the pool, or to the running path, or to do our shopping.
We also sit at home and read or paint or watch TV.
We calculated that if we are awake for about 16 hours per day (8am to midnight) and we are on our feet or active for 4 hours per day, this means that we are normally sitting for 12 hours per day.
On a pilgrimage, it is the exact opposite of our daily lives.
We walk for 10 hours per day, which includes visiting temples or doing sightseeing, either way we are standing on our feet all day every day,, and we sit or rest for only 4 hours per day.
We continued walking after lunch to Imazu.
This temple is located at the base of a small mountain above an area full of rice fields.
Seiganji temple #83, was established in the year 1175.
The principal image of worship is the Amida Nyorai.
The mountain is called Mount Bishamon of Imazu.
At its peak, there were 42 temples on this mountain, but now only Seiganji temple remains.
The temple had many national treasures and other important cultural statues, but they were all taken to the National Museum.
Nobody was at the temple office, so I rang the doorbell of the intercom.
A young woman answered and I asked in Japanese if we can get our book stamped.
She said yes and that she would come right away.
She seemed utterly shocked when she saw that we were foreigners.
She very carefully stamped our book and scroll, making sure to roll the scroll very carefully.
The temple is built on the slopes of a small mountain with the main hall building up the stairs and a viewing point at the top.
From there, we were walking to the train station to go back to Fukuoka, when it started raining, so we took another tea break closer to the train station.
At Bunchi cafe, the woman owner makes her own bagels.
She had only two tables in her tiny cafe and only two bagels.
I guess business is slow…
We had her signature dish, which is a toasted bagel cut into bite sized pieces, with cream cheese and blueberry compote and a ginger tea for me, and a banana and black sesame smoothie for Jules.
We took the train to Tenjin station and at a big electronics store I bought a new power bank for my phone.
My old charger is running out of power and is not able to charge my phone.
In fact, our Apple Watches are also running out of battery charge by the end of the day.
If our phones, watches and power banks cannot take the heat, imagine how we feel…
We had a dinner of soba noodles and tempura at the Tenjin station, and a
small chocolate truffle for dessert.
At our Onsen hotel, we had a very reviving soak in the hot springs.
I alternated between warm and cold water to reduce the swelling and pressure in my ankles and achy feet.
Stats: 34,600 steps
Today’s walk: 25.5 km
Kilometers walked to date: 47.5
T83 – Seiganji 誓願寺
T107- Takayoshi Temple 隆善寺