Day 1: Ryōzen-ji

Day one of my pilgrimage began around 7 am with a series of uneventful train rides from Tokyo all the way to the doorstep of temple 1: Ryōzen-ji (霊山寺 – 1) where we arrived around 3 pm.

As usual, my paranoid mind had wandered into the realm of listing everything that could go wrong over the coming weeks and came to the conclusion that I was probably woefully unprepared. Not the most auspicious beginning.

Ryozen-ji gate

At Ryōzen-ji we awkwardly went through the motions of bowing, washing our hands, ringing the bell and praying for the first time before purchasing some of the pilgrim attire needed for the rest of the trip. I bought a wooden staff, white vest, pilgrimage book, name slips and a small bag to contain the stuff I’ll frequently be needing.

Ryozen-ji hall]

On the way out we bumped into an older German man who had just completed his pilgrimage having walked the entire distance in 60 days. It was our first interaction with a fellow pilgrim and great to get some encouragement for the long road ahead.

After taking a few photos we walked the short distance to the Ryokan we’d booked and enjoyed a soak in the onsen before a deliciously healthy dinner. Given that I plan to camp as much as possible I don’t expect the coming nights to be quite so luxurious!

Tomorrow is our first day of proper walking and I’m slightly nervous about finding accommodation given that it’s golden week but looking forward to putting the first few kilometres behind us.


Distance walked: 4 km / 5,600 steps
Temples visited: 1
Overnight lodgings: Kadoya-tsubakisō (旅館かどや椿荘) – Ryokan

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David avatar

8 responses

  1. Can we please see a picture of you in your outfit?

    1. Coming soon!

  2. Elly avatar

    David, nice to read your blog from day 1.
    I start with it today. Question: do walk alone or with someone else? I read we and I.

    1. I was walking with Chen for the first week and then again last weekend but for the rest of the time I’ve been alone.

  3. Elly avatar

    I have read quite some days of your blog now and I am still curious how you look! Did you ever post a picture of yourself?
    And how old are you? You walk many km a day, more then I did (I am 65 now).

    I recognize a lot of your pictures and stories. I walked the henro in Spring 2013 for the first time. In 2014 again in Spring and last year in Autumn. From Oct 1st till dec 10th! SonI am a slow walker…
    My website about my henro in 2013:
    My pictures are all made with Iphone5
    It is in Dutch but there is a (somewhat awkward) translation by Google too:

    1. Hey Elly, I’m 31 and a little camera shy but will post a photo at some point before the end. Thanks for sharing your site; I’ll be sure to have a read and compare notes once I’m done!

  4. Athena avatar

    Hi David,

    I stumbled on your posts, and I’m looking forward to comparing your experience with mine last summer.

    I moved to Tokyo after finishing the Ohenro last year. I’d love to hear your take, as you’re one of the only people who’s done it through Tsuyu. I’m going to read the rest of your posts first so I don’t ask silly questions. ^^

    1. Thanks for getting in touch Athena – I actually stumbled across your blog while I was researching my own henro! Let me know if you want to catch up in Tokyo, would be great to share some stories 🙂


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