Japan Shikoku Tokushima Travel

Day 3: Generosity

We set off this morning around 7.30am from Jūraku-ji (十楽寺 – 7) and enjoyed the cool early morning breeze on the way to Kumadani-ji (熊谷寺 – 8). There’s something very liberating about having nothing else to do but walk and follow the signs.


The sound of monks chanting boomed out of a tinny loudspeaker somewhere above the path leading up to the main hall at Kumadani-ji. Combined with the dappled light coming through the trees it was very atmospheric.


We enjoyed the place to ourselves quietly until a couple turned up with two small dogs wearing matching white henro shirts. They seemed to be enjoying the pilgrimage even more than their owners!


At each temple, after praying you get your pilgrimage book (nokyocho 納経帳) stamped and signed with the name of the temple and deity in beautiful handwritten calligraphy. As well as acting as a passport for where you’ve been, each page is small work of art.


I noticed that the friendly lady doing the signing at Hōrin-ji (法輪寺 – 9) did it a little differently from others since she did the calligraphy first and placed the red stamps on top. At Kirihata-ji (切幡寺 – 10) the nokyo priest looked well into her 90s and didn’t say a word but not in an unfriendly way.


To reach Kirihata-ji you must first climb 330 stone steps. We stopped at a pilgrim good shop Sumotoriya at the bottom who were kind enough to let us leave our heavy bags there instead of hauling them all the way up. Here I also purchased a sedge hat (sugegasa) which aside from being the proper attire is actually very effective at keeping the sun out of your eyes.


The trek to Fujii-dera (藤井寺 – 11) is a little under 10km which was the longest stretch between temples so far (there will be much bigger gaps later on) and we were pretty tired towards the end so didn’t spend much time there.

Kamo no yu hut

Tonight we’re staying in a wonderful hut beside an onsen near temple 11 called Kamo-no-yu which is generously provided by the owners for free. They also provide bicycles so you can easily get to the nearest supermarket. The perfect combination to wash away the aches and pains of the day.

Tomorrow we have our first climb up into the mountains; I’m looking forward to the shade!


Distance walked: 24 km / 39,000 steps
Temples visited: 8–11
Overnight lodgings: Kamo-no-yu (鴨の湯) – Zenkonyado

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Originally from the UK, David is designer and wanderer currently based in Kamakura. Prior to this, he lived in China and still returns frequently to continue exploring this vast and varied land. He started Randomwire in 2003 to chronicle his travels and occasional musings. Feel free to drop him a line.

6 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Erik says:

    David, I’m really enjoying this series. I’m wondering: are you hitting every single temple? I only ask because it’s day 3 and you’re already at #11, although they seem clustered together on the map near the beginning.

    1. David says:

      Hi Eric, yes the aim is to visit all 88 temples. Today I’ll probably only visit one since it’s a long trek into the mountains and later on there’ll be some stretches where I hit none.

  2. oldmankk says:

    I broke my record of shouldering 13kg baggage, and a dawn to dusk 45km distance walk, haha….. beloved Route 55 is my total sore.

  3. Athena says:

    Loved this henro hut. Glad to see you were there too. Did you leave your osamefuda? I’ll have to find it the next time I do this.

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