Waking up at 5 am this morning it was already raining. Hard. I knew I would have to face this sooner or later but wasn’t looking forward to it all the same. My goal was to make it 25km along the Route 55 highway to Shishikui (宍喰町), bringing me within 40km of Hotsumisaki-ji (最御崎寺 – 24).
After putting on all my wet weather gear I set off along the road with a determined look on my face. Clouds hung over the mountains like bitter cotton candy.
The walk was fairly monotonous except for a few detours through the woods to avoid some of the tunnels. One of these took me along the beach where the waves were lapping menacingly against the rocks as the heavens tried their best to wash me off them.
Before the roads were built pilgrims had to walk the whole way along the seashore which gave rise to its name “Gorogoro-ishi”, meaning the rumbling sound (gorogoro) of the rocks (ishi) being relentlessly pummelled by the waves.
Coming out of the town of Mugi I came across another very well-put-together henro hut complete with toilets and a kitchen. Part of me fancied stopping here and just watching the rain all day but instead, I pressed on.
At 11 am after 15km I reached Saba Daishi, one of 20 other bekkaku temples, not part of the official 88 but still visited by some pilgrims. Within the temple is a statue of Kūkai holding a mackerel in his right hand (read more about the legend behind it).
I had a bit of a break while watching a group of pensioners in matching outfits chanting in the rain and then getting their books stamped. By now my shoes were waterlogged and I wasn’t in the best of spirits.
Trudging on I eventually reached Kainan and feeling hungry stopped by a supermarket to have a slap-up lunch consisting of a donburi bento and a slice of lukewarm pizza. It did the job and gave me enough energy to continue on for another 1.5 hours to Shishikui which I reached around 3.30 pm.
The minshuku I’m staying in tonight looks like it hasn’t changed much since the 1960s and has the added bonus of a swallows nest in the front entrance! After dinner, I headed to the nearby Cafe Hikosen (ひこせん 喫茶店) to enjoy a slice of cheesecake and free wifi. Outside I could see huge birds of prey gliding over the harbour.
Tomorrow I’m in for another rainy slog down towards Cape Muroto but hopefully, things will have brightened up by Wednesday.
Distance walked: 25 km / 41,500 steps
Temples visited: Bekkaku 4
Overnight lodgings: Nushima (民宿ぬしま) – Minshuku