Day 12: Cape Muroto

After two days of heavy rain, the weather finally broke today and by mid-morning, the sun was shining. Things were looking up.

Setting off at 7 am I made good progress down the eastern edge of Route 55 and passed “Deep Sea World” around 10 am.

Here I bumped into a fellow henro who was staying at the same minshuku the previous night. I think his name was Toshi and we made small talk in broken Japanese/English on the way to Mikurado Cave (御廚人窟) below Hotsumisaki-ji (最御崎寺 – 24).

Outside Mikurado Cave

In these caves, Kōbō-Daishi purportedly underwent ascetic training. After looking out and seeing the view of the sea and the sky he changed his name to Kūkai, signifying that his prayers will be as wide as the sky (kū), and as deep as the sea (kai).

Inside Mikurado Cave

There had been some recent rockfalls in front of the caves and the entrance is roped-off but they don’t stop anyone from going in (at your own risk).

Statues near Hotsumisaki-ji
Stairs to Hotsumisaki-ji

Although I’d only walked about 15km I’d booked to stay at Muroto-so minshuku on the tip of Cape Muroto and since it was so near, I left my bag there before climbing up to Hotsumisaki-ji.

Hotsumisaki-ji gate
Hotsumisaki-ji gate

The temple itself is another beautiful one surrounded by trees high on the mountainside. Since I wasn’t in any rush today I spend a little more time wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere.

Kobo Daishi at Hotsumisaki-ji

Another old henro who I’d met two days ago gave me half a banana which was very welcome since I had finished all my snacks and there wasn’t anywhere nearby to eat.

View towards Shinshō-ji
Shinto shrine
Muroto misakicho fishing village

I decided to walk onto Shinshō-ji (津照寺 – 25) since it was only 7km away and I had the whole afternoon free. The road took me through a nice old fishing village where, as usual, the few people I saw were very elderly and many homes looked empty.

Before visiting the temple I went to a combini (convenience store) to get some food for a late lunch which I ate sitting at a bus stop. A few school kids passed on their bicycles and politely said “konichiwa” as they always do in these parts.

Shinshō-ji stairs
Pilgrims ascending to Shinshō-ji

Upon arrival at Shinshō-ji I bumped into Toshi again on the long stairs up to the main hall. It’s a small temple and not the prettiest since the buildings seem quite modern but is in a nice location near the sea.

Cape Muroto beach
Cape Muroto rock formations

Instead of retracing my steps back to the minshuku by foot, I decided to take the bus (it’s not cheating if you’ve already walked it!). When I arrived I walked out onto the beach where you can see some amazing rock formations where sedimentary layers have been pushed upwards over millions of years.

Cape Muroto sunset

After dinner, once it was pitch black outside I wandered back down to the beach and gazed up at the moon and start as the strong beam from the lighthouse above swept the coast. Not a bad way to end the day.

Since the weather forecast looks good for the next two days I’m hoping to camp out tomorrow night. Fingers crossed I can find somewhere suitable to pitch my tent near Kōnomine-ji (神峰寺 – 27).


Distance walked: 27 km / 38,500 steps
Temples visited: 24–25
Overnight lodgings: Muroto-sō (民宿室戸荘) – Minshuku

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David avatar

7 responses

  1. Looks beautiful. Thank goodness for half a banana.

  2. Margaret avatar

    Lovely scenery for you and so pleased it’s drier? Trusting the camping will be a success for you??

  3. Julien avatar

    This seems to be a fantastic experience and I look forward to your updates every day! Good luck with the rest of the journey 🙂

    1. Thanks Julien!

  4. Arnold Smith avatar
    Arnold Smith

    Did you get to try the hollow stone at Hotsumisaki-ji (最御崎寺 – 24)? I was memorized with it. Brings back fond memories. Wonderful pictures. If you get the chance Temple 26 is a nice Temple to stay at. The staff are friendly and very nice.

    1. I think I missed the hollow stone 🙁

      1. Arnold Smith avatar
        Arnold Smith

        Guess it is not hollow, but plays like a musical tone (hollow sound) when hit with smaller stones. Here is what it says on

        “In the temple grounds is a large boulder about 3′ high and 4′ wide with small, palm-sized stones laying in depressions along the top. When you strike the boulder with the smaller stones, musical tones are given off. Not just a CLACK of one stone hitting another, but a clack accompanied by a distinct musical tone, with different sized rocks producing different tones. Frederick Starr talks about the famous Myōjōseki (Bright Star Stone? Morning Star Stone?). A deity appeared to Kōbō Daishi and Kōbō Daishi embedded it in this stone, which has shone ever since. “


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