Today the weather didn’t seem to be able to make its mind up about whether it was merely depressed or openly crying.
I left Marugame at 7am, heading east towards Gōshō-ji (郷照寺 – 78). Even though it wasn’t raining yet the humidity was making my clothes stick to my skin and the outlook for the rest of the day didn’t look very bright.
After reaching Akiba Shrine the route takes you down a nicely preserved old street with a few traditional shops. Since it was only 8am nothing was open yet.
The temple rites soon over, I continued through Sakaide City (坂出市) which, like Marugame, didn’t seem to have much going on.
Shortly before reaching Tennō-ji (天皇寺 – 79) I passed Kiyomizu-ya restaurant next to Yasoba-no-mizu temple. Sitting beside a pretty pond, it looked like a nice place for lunch but was too early so I continued.
It started raining almost as soon as I arrived at Tennō-ji, having first walked through the intersecting Shiraminegū Shrine.
I headed straight for cover at the temple office so I could get out my wet weather gear. Since the rain wasn’t too heavy I just put on my backpack and hat cover to avoid getting any more sweaty than I already was.
The man in the office asked the usual questions while I was getting prepared; Where are you from? Where are you heading today? How did you know about the pilgrimage? I probably answer these questions three or four times a day but don’t really mind since I’m walking alone most of the time and it’s an opportunity to have a conversation.
Just before reaching Sanuki Kokubun-ji (讃岐国分寺 – 80) I stopped for lunch at Udon Yamashita around 11.30am. I was their first customer of the day and ordered a large bowl of cold udon with tempura and fried chicken since it would be my main meal today.
At Kokubun-ji the Daishi hall was combined with the shop and temple office which seemed more geared around money making than prayer.
With 15km already under my belt, the 7km route up the mountain to Shiromine-ji (白峯寺 – 81) was made more difficult by the fact that the rain had turned the path into a stream.
I passed a Self Defence Force training area with “keep out” signs posted all over the barbed wire fence.
While taking a breather a tame dragonfly landed on my stick and sat calmly for a few minutes while we contemplated each other. It had the most beautifully intricate wings.
Trying to dodge the muddy water and not slip over on the rocks while juggling a heavy pack meant I didn’t reach Shiromine-ji till 2.30pm but by the time I did the rain had thankfully stopped.
Post-rain the trees looked stunning.
Situated at the opposite end of the ridge, Negoro-ji (根香寺 – 82) is reached via the Sanuki Henro Trail. It too was severely waterlogged but at least it was fairly level.
On the way, I met Noguchi-San, another henro who was heading in the same direction. Shortly before Negoro-ji we reached Goshikidai hut (51) which is where I planned to stay the night.
Fully enclosed with a sleeping loft, water, electricity and western-style toilets, it’s the best hut I’ve seen on the whole island. Noguchi-San had been planning to descend back to Kokubun-ji but after seeing the hut he decided to stay too.
Since it was already 4.30pm I left my pack and continued 10 minutes further to Negoro-ji so I could get my book stamped before the temple office closed. It’s a small temple but with a beautiful tree-covered approach.
Afterwards, I headed back to the hut and had a simple dinner of some food I’d picked up at a combini earlier before settling down for the evening.
Unfortunately, my Japanese wasn’t up to much of a conversation with Noguchi-San but he did show me a sort of acupuncture where instead of using needles you set fire to a small pad that you stick on pressure points (okyu お灸). I tried it on my legs but didn’t notice much effect!
Tomorrow I’ll reach Takamatsu City where I’m planning a bit of sightseeing in the afternoon so less walking than the 33km today 🙂