Waking this morning to the sound of heavy rain banging against the barred windows of the cheap Business Hotel, I felt exhausted before even sitting up. I took the executive decision to make a dash for Enkō-ji (延光寺 – 39) and then rest during the afternoon.
After laboriously putting on my still-damp rain gear I left my pack at the front desk and stepped out into the melee. Because I’d taken the long route, I’d have to return through Sukumo after visiting Enkō-ji anyway.
Without the usual weight on my back for some reason, my left ankle immediately began to complain and it was a rather painful 7km tramp to the temple.
Upon arrival at Enkō-ji, there was a tour group in full swing chanting the sutras. I proceeded to get my book stamped first and then found some cover from which to quietly listen (an audio recording is embedded above).
The temple looked beautiful in the rain and I was reminded of the 2002 film Hero where Jet Li mentally fights Donnie Yen in a traditional courtyard. Highly recommended.
I arrived back in Sukumo at 10.45 am looking like a heavily pregnant drowned rat (I’d stuffed my satchel under my raincoat). After collecting my pack I ducked into a nearby post office and sent a few small items back to Tokyo. At this point, every gram counts.
I’d booked another Business Hotel on the opposite side of town which would put me in the right direction for tomorrow’s assault. Even though I was too early to check in the kind lady at the counter let me use the laundry and showed me to a spot I could wait. Much to my surprise, it had a fast wifi connection. Heaven!
After finding a family restaurant in which to have lunch and then being given access to the room I set about drying everything off and getting organised before collapsing on the bed for a two-hour nap.
Shortly after 5 pm I woke and headed out to a nearby tonkatsu (pork cutlet) restaurant for dinner.
My plan tomorrow is to reach Kanjizai-ji (観自在寺 – 40) by noon and then take the Naka-michi trail north towards Ryūkōji (竜光寺 – 41). The route is marked as “experienced hikers only” as it’s very remote but I’ve found a place to stop for the night halfway and the weather looks fair. Fingers crossed.