Today I set a new personal best of sorts, managing to cover a whopping 40km on foot, taking in temples 31 through 35.
Leaving last night’s quirky lodgings shortly before 7am, I first made my way back to the business hotel where I stayed yesterday since I had accidentally left my wooden staff there (Gandalf style).
Luckily it didn’t send me off course and I was soon walking along a tributary of the Kagami River towards Chikurin-ji (竹林寺 – 31).
After crossing the Aoyagi bridge and climbing the small hill towards the temple I was rewarded with a nice view back over Kochi. It looked much nicer on a sunny day!
Upon reaching Chikurin-ji I realised to my dismay that I had only 280 yen left in my wallet, 20 yen short of the amount to pay for the temple stamp. Luckily the kind staff in the office accepted this after listening to my painfully pronounced apology and I avoided a long trip back down and up the hill.
Having found an ATM on the way I got to Zenjibu-ji (禅師峰寺 – 32) around 10.30am and then, after paying my respects, made a beeline to the ferry which takes you from Tanezaki to Nagahama.
Arriving at the ferry just as the doors were closing for the 12.10, luckily one of the workers spotted me and kept it open so I could jump on at the last moment.
Safely on the other side, I stopped to eat my combini lunch of a tuna rice ball and a ham sandwich. Another henro walking in the opposite direction joined me and we exchanged the usual pleasantries.
A short hop, skip and a jump later I arrived at Sekkei-ji (雪蹊寺 – 33), one of only three Zen temples along the route (and possibly also the only one with a fruit shop on its grounds).
6.5 hot and sticky kilometres further I arrived at Tanema-ji (種間寺 – 34) around 2.30pm and to my delight found an ice cream stand right outside. After buying a chocolate cone I got chatting with the lovely old lady running it and she gave me an extra free scoop of matcha!
With almost left 10km to go before Kiyotaki-ji (清滝寺 – 35) I made my way quickly through the rice fields with the hope of arriving by 5pm when the office closes. Over the past two-plus weeks I’ve watched the rice plants growing little by little in the fields each day in their neat rows. It’s really quite something.
As well as rice, it seems that the farmers of Shikoku have taken to also farming sunlight in a big way. Today I came across a particularly cool solar panel array on an enormous hydraulic arm that follows the sun. Would be great to see this sort of thing catch on elsewhere.
I stopped to check my feet which by now were complaining again. No major damage but I taped up a few areas which were looking a bit red.
Crossing Niyodogawa-ohashi bridge time was against me as I entered Tosa City. The last 5km were pretty tough but I made to Kiyotaki-ji shortly after 5pm and asked the priest for permission to sleep in their tsuyado which he kindly agreed.
I noticed that the priest spent a good three hours from 5-8pm cleaning up the temple grounds before retiring himself and wondered what his life was like. Does he get holidays? How often does he get to leave the temple?
I couldn’t upload my blog tonight since I don’t have any internet but will do so in the morning from a nearby combini. I got ahead of myself today so will take it a little easier tomorrow.