Day one of my pilgrimage began around 7am 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 3pm.
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.
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.
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.